A picture paints a thousand words, said the artist to the bookseller. We all try and create pleasing pictures in our gardens. Some gardeners use one big canvas; other gardeners use a series of smaller ones, in sections. A triptych garden.
I have been pondering on this recently, as I was the recipient of some truly kind words on the garden, in particular, mentioning The Impatient Gardener’s beautiful photography. Indeed, she is very clever; sometimes I look at her photographs and cannot quite believe it is here. There is no hocus pocus trickery with them, however there is clever selection. For this garden has its dark corners; hidden spots rarely visited and where no one dares tread.
In my garden, the dark corners are not always permanent; they may be there for some years and then inspiration will strike. In no time they can be rejuvenated, and a new garden picture might emerge, you let the light in. Sometimes the wilful neglect of a dark corner will creep up slowly, until it dawns on you that it is a spot you no longer linger. Perhaps you missed a snake there at the beginning of summer and so quite naturally, avoid it for the ensuing months. Before you know it, it has turned and become a dark corner and no amount of noise and banging will let you relax and wish to spend time there.
Of course, you will realise by now I am speaking metaphorically; a dark corner does not necessarily have to be dark. Nor does it have to be a corner, it may well be in the open, or beside a shed. It may be an area where you store (dump) your bits of left-over irrigation pipe, some handy old pieces of wire you do not know what to do with but you know they will be handy. The old plastic pot pile, sizes various, condition unknown. Possibility of lizards, spiders, or worse slithering out of them when handled, one hundred percent.
Another dark corner may be your compost pile, the ingredients carted in and mixed with such promise. Fastidiously turned and watered for weeks until that hot spell kills both it and your desire to persevere with it. Possibility of lizards, spiders, or worse crawling out of it when handled, one hundred percent.
We have cleaned up a dark corner this week. It has been worrying me, both the being a dark corner and the task of cleaning it up. A wood heap, laid down many years ago amongst a thicket of gidgee trees and now built in by a shed, making it inaccessible and hemmed in. Not a wood pile to make the Fireside Monthly magazine; a wood heap to strike fear into your core. The darkest of dark corners.
I love wood heaps. The sight of neatly stacked, evenly sawn lengths of wood is enough to fill my heart with joy. And the promise of all those heavenly winter fires, with neat little sawn logs artfully placed in a neat little wood basket or similar. Perhaps a quaint little brass handled broom to swish away any stray bits of bark and the odd puff of ash? All this and then to be safe in the knowledge there is a neat wood pile outside. Perhaps also artfully stacked to fit into a sculptural ring, or to mimic a wall of the house or cleverly incorporated into the garden fence?
If our darkest of wood heaps was a painting, it would be called “After the Tsunami”. Piles of uncut wood various, washed up and all askew, covered thickly with decades of leaf mulch and a green coating of Mile-a-Minute (Creepus all-aroundus) holding it tight with long and tangled tentacles.
The thought of what may have made its home under all of this kept me awake at night, however after a week of frosty mornings, it was time to strike. Rake at hand, we started, trailer load by load, to draft up and cart away. Much good wood was saved (gidgee) and much bad wood was relegated to a not in my fireplace heap (not gidgee). I am slightly pedantic about my firewood, and years of fireside huddling has convinced me that if it is not gidgee, do not bother. Mr. Moble however, believes if it was in the garden and has fallen over, it should be cut up and used. A particularly fiery point of contention around here to be sure.
Needless to say, we now have quite a good load of wood ready for its minimal processing; please do not imagine there is artfully arranged little sawn logs in a dear little fireside basket here. If it is fractionally shorter than Mr. Moble’s waist, it will, apparently, fit in the hearth. No matter that it must be dragged in on a trolley and artfully trimmed with an axe to wedge it in; and as for a little brass handled hearth sweeper, rake and shovel would be more on point.
I am not complaining, we have shifted the darkest of corners and brought light into a very neglected part of the garden, and after all that, only one huge blue tongue lizard unearthed. In fact, it now looks a perfect spot to move my nursery to. Plans will be afoot, I just need to go and trolley some more wood onto the fire,
Good luck with your dark corners,
The Moble Gardener.