Status update: so I ordered ten bare-root raspberry canes for twenty quid the other day. They turned up today, a day early. So I’ve had to spend ninety minutes soaking them and containerising them. I repotted the six bare root blueberry bushes I bought for a tenner before Xmas and had to shelter in the plastic mini-greenhouse for a month because of the long freeze, too. So I’m a little behind. But raspberries are my partner’s favourite berry, so we’re going to see if I can’t give her fresh ones from the garden in the future. And, since I’ve been at the desk or hunched over a notebook continuously for some while now, the exercise and air was good for me. Sticking my finger in random cat shit laid behind a weed I needed to pull out to situate this pot, not so much.
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Bare-root apple trees have arrived. They do look dead, but they are (or should be!) just dormant. I’m soaking the roots in a tub of rainwater for an hour before planting them in containers. One’s a Bloody Ploughman, from Scotland, the other a Christmas Pearmain. I have two other, more local apple trees coming in to bridge the pollination groups.
It’s hard to write a lasting story on ice. Recurring cold snaps and hard frosts have frozen the garden in place, and it’s impossible to work with. I ordered a bunch of dormant plants, as this is the season to pick them up cheap, and now I’m just hoping they survive until spring.
This site is much the same. I’m still shaking it out of deep freeze and figuring out how to work it. As a digital garden, it’s frozen.
“Digital garden” is a term I came across a few years ago. Here’s the post in question:
…not following the conventions of the “personal blog,” as we’ve come to know it. Rather than presenting a set of polished articles, displayed in reverse chronological order, these sites act more like free form, work-in-progress wikis.
A garden is a collection of evolving ideas that aren’t strictly organised by their publication date. They’re inherently exploratory – notes are linked through contextual associations. They aren’t refined or complete – notes are published as half-finished thoughts that will grow and evolve over time. They’re less rigid, less performative, and less perfect than the personal websites we’re used to seeing.
Another post from that writer, Maggie Appleton, illustrates where she sees digital gardens fitting:
All of which constitutes a fun thing to think about. I have always personally liked the “hardly baked” approach as coined by Simon Reynolds, but I also like the chronological channel. The thing is actually connecting up the planting, which I am historically bad at. In a nod to the garden, I’ve started adding tags to posts – a minor thing, and something I probably should have done years ago, but it may help me surface stuff without having to dig around in the dirt to see if there’s a plant I forgot about that got covered in weeds.
I’m a bad gardener. But I’m a worse knowledge worker. Some of my peers shove everything they come across into vastly powerful knowledge management engines and mighty zettelkastens. I’m more of a casual zibaldone operator. The metaphor I’ve always used is tossing information into the compost bin at the back of my head, and letting it all cook down until idea A rots next to idea B and rolls out a useful clump of muck I can turn into a story. It’s an organic, unmanaged process.
But spring is coming. If I start some seeds in the propagator now, and put them into the new cheap mini greenhouse (a tenner!) that just arrived when they have true leaves on them, I should have a working food-forest garden going when the frost season passes. So I’m planning in advance of the time the garden is no longer frozen.
I am resisting opening a new category for garden notes. But I kind of want to. At the top of June 2022, I showed the state of the garden to my partner, who said it looked like a “dark mysterious glade,” so in my head the garden is The Glade now.
It’s not a big garden. When my daughter left for university – nearly ten years, now! – we stopped maintaining it beyond keeping the lawn down and controlling the edges a bit. And then, one morning in early June, I stopped on my way back from feeding the chickens and actually looked around for the first time in years. And realised it was a death forest. A handful of plants performing Darwinian murder on everything around them, and empty beds with morbid soil. That past Xmas, I’d been bought a countertop hydroponic propagator because I’d been bemoaning a lack of fresh herbs for the kitchen. Nine years earlier, I’d bought a plastic mini greenhouse after a health scare but had never assembled the bloody thing.
So I went out with secateurs and trowels and old kitchen shears and a rusty saw, and went to work on clearing the garden, raising plants in the propagator and potting them in the mini greenhouse.
Pictured is the lilac tree that finally dropped its foliage, which will make it easier to cut back. The garden is largely black and green right now.
Gardening is an art. It’s inherently a creative act, that supports my other creative acts. It’s also, for me, a horticultural therapy practise. A living notebook. For me, it entirely fits within the ambit of this site. And now, it’s the start of my first full year of including the garden in my creative work. (Because, previously, the garden was included in the life of parenting, which is a related but very different thing.) So notes on the garden will appear here too, being folded into the stream of my creative life. There will be complaints about snails.