‘There’s forty acres and redemption to be found
just along down the way.
There is a place where no ploughblade has turned the ground
but you will turn it over,
Because out here hope remains.’
Caedmon’s Call, 40 Acres
Spring brings with it longer days, and in the brightness of sunshine, all of a sudden you start to notice all the things that need to be done. This weekend I’ve been overtaken by a strange compulsion to sort, clean, rearrange, clear out, throw away and make things new.
It started a few days ago, when a new friend put out a plaintive cry for help with her garden. When I lived in Fleetwood I dabbled with gardening. I wasn’t committed to epic planting of shrubbery or cultivating of crops – my next door neighbour frequently took pity on my thirsty looking tubs in my front yard and gave them a good dousing for me. Still there’s something satisfying about messing around in gardens.
I volunteered. ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ AB asked me. ‘We could go and watch a film instead…’
But I had my pink gardening gloves ready, she had all the tools, and I had already sized up what we needed to do first. ‘Let’s just start and do a bit,’ I said.
So we began raking up all the dead leaves and twigs up from her back lawn and pulling up the giant weeds that were growing in the middle of it. Very quickly a large pile of green waste appeared – dead foliage and moss and unwanted plants – a great mound on her patio.
Like anything, once you start a task, you begin to see all the other jobs that follow it. Around the edges of the garden it was clear there had once been flowerbeds. So with a spade we reclaimed them, dug them out, hoed them over, and raked out some of the rubble.
As the time passed I could see more and more the potential of the space. It made me feel a little bit delirious, and I kept drifting off into flowery daydreams while I dug. I jibbered on about what could be planted in all the spaces, forgetting the names of all the plants I could see in my mind’s eye. I talked nonsense about horse manure and seeds, roses and lavender, vegetable plots.
AB patiently told me she did not want poop putting on her garden.
It took the afternoon to do this, and at the end we contentedly looked out over a weed-free, square piece of grass as if we’d created a replica of the Hampton Court Palace maze.