Saturday, March 18, 2006


I've just been looking briefly at the Commonwealth Games marathon, which is being run in Melbourne. It's strange, seeing what appears to be (but can't be) full summer there, when here, the trees are leafless, the early spring bulbs are in flower and the herbaceous plants are just beginning to sprout. It must be coming on to autumn in Australia (and my dopey brain keeps thinking things like: so it'll be October there. No, I do know it isn't).

Melbourne looks lovely- lots of tree-lined roads. Edinburgh is lovely too, for a city. In fact, some parts of it are really stunning. But we don't have many tree-lined roads, not in the centre of town, anyway. Princes Street, of course - the main shopping street - is built up on only one side; the other side is garden, with lots of trees and with the Castle rising above it on a huge volcanic rock.

I worked in the garden today for only the second time this year, which was wonderful, even though I was just tidying up, not planting anything. There were lots of dead leaves to rake up and some of last year's herbaceous plants to cut down. It's an annual mystery that I rake up all the autumn leaves in October, but by this time of year there are lots more. They look rather horrible but on the other hand, they keep the weeds down. I put the leaves into plastic bags and stand them in by the compost heap to rot down into leaf mould. Then after eighteen months, they can be put back on the beds to condition the soil.

It would be much more convenient, I always think, if leaves would just rot down where they lay over the winter. It would save all that raking and heaving of sacks full of dead leaves. It's just one of the many things in the world that could do with a little tinkering with, such as the less convenient aspects of the female reproductive system. And chocolate: why does it have to be fattening? After all, it's a fruit, isn't it? (Or so my son claims. And he's a medical student, so he must be right.)

Still, I suppose all that garden exercise must have burnt some calories.

And I love my garden so much! After the long, dark winter, it's fantastic to get out into the fresh air and to see little shoots stretching up from the earth, promising flowers in the months to come. Everything looks much tidier now; there's lots more to do but the garden's beginning to be a pleasure to look at, and from now on , it'll just get better and better. I'm so glad it's spring.


  1. Oh, I love gardening so much, too! Your description made me hate the blanket of snow outside even more. The tulips were just starting to peek out and I miss my daily patrol to see what else is sprouting for the spring. I even bought some hollyhocks, zinnia seeds, and watermelon (!) seeds at the store on a sunny day because I couldn't resist. Little Z loves planting with me and watching things grow. But then, it snowed that evening, of course! Ack!

    And as for your class of disaffected 15-year olds? No thanks! Haha! You win! ;) But isn't it fun when you see the rare spark or two in their eyes?

  2. Yes, it's fantastic. Actually, I sometimes achieve that spark by feeding them chocolate... . But occasionally they enjoy the work I give them, too. Just not yesterday.

  3. You are right about our seasons here, Isabelle - it is the first month of Autumn, which is the loveliest time of the year in the world's Most Livable City. We still get a few hot days, but it cools down pretty quickly, which has been great for the Games athletes this past week. You are right about the trees here too - the city of Melbourne (1 square mile approximately) is surrounded on three sides by large parks and gardens, and tree lined avenues go out from the city into the suburbs.