I have a new hobby – gardening! It’s new for me because until we moved to the country recently, we lived in an apartment for a very long time with only a small balcony to grow things on. And let’s just say my experiments at balcony horticulture were not really all that successful. More like disastrous. (It could have had something to do with the fact that I forgot to water the plants, but anyway ...)
But now I have a real garden to play with and it’s absolute bliss. I’ve been buying seed packets and bedding plants like there’s no tomorrow and have just about killed my back weeding the flower beds in order to make them ready for the new stuff. It’s hard work, but I don’t mind at all. My usual couch potato self doesn’t object to actually moving and I’ve discovered all sorts of new muscles I never knew I had. Great!
Will I remember to water these new plantations? And will they actually grow and thrive the way they should? I’ve no idea, but I’m hoping Mother Nature will help me out a little here. It does, after all, rain a lot in England and as I’m planting in proper soil, rather than tiny little pots, hopefully that will help too.
As I write historical novels, this whole gardening thing has made me think though – I’m just playing around at the moment and I’m not too bothered whether my seeds grow or not. But in the past, people depended on the produce from their gardens and failure could mean catastrophe. They had to grow enough to live on until next year’s crop and if that didn’t work – and Mother Nature refused to co-operate – they went hungry. It’s a sobering thought!
We take so much for granted now and trying my hand at gardening has really helped me get into the mindset of my characters from the past a lot better. I can understand their struggles and their frustration if their hard work didn’t pay off. Living in the country is great too, because it’s so much easier to visualise what the world was like back when there were no cars etc. Just fields full of bleating sheep, horses and cows grazing and the birds singing their hearts out. In London I could go days without seeing a single sparrow – here the garden is full of busy little sparrows, finches and wagtails, not to mention the tame pheasant who strolls around the lawn squawking and countless other birds whose names I don’t even know.
I’m starting to sound like a Good Life guru advocating going back to our roots, which isn’t my intention. But moving to the country has been a great learning experience and it’s given me lots of inspiration for writing. I just hope my seeds grow so I can feel the pride my forefathers must have felt when they succeeded in feeding their families! Just as well no one is depending on me though as I’m still learning ...