Frank is a gardener. Frank is a landscape gardener. Frank did not like the landscape of the garden at my place. Frank validated my feelings of frustration as we toured the garden together and estimated what it would take, in both time and money, to get it into shape.
Frank diagnosed my garden as a ‘high-maintenance garden’. The primary cause of this disease was the ‘willy-nilly’ planting of ‘whatever they like’ over many years of previous owners and tenants – before I came to live here, I hasten to add.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely garden in many ways. At least there is a garden. At least I didn’t have to head out and buy plants when I arrived at this house nearly four years ago. It’s generally lovely – but there are corners that are dark and causing-of-despair. There are plants that are spiky and ugly and, in Frank’s words, ‘have no business being there!’ I totally agree!
This land where I live is a land that naturally grows beautiful, big, ‘fluffy’ trees (as I like to describe the beech and other like trees). It’s a land of soft, beautiful, subtle plants.
But every now and then, someone must come back from some holiday in some exotic location and decide that they want a little bit of the exotic in their back garden! ‘No’, I say!
Frank says ‘No!’ too.
However, the business of putting things to rights will take time and a few others being roped in to help him. Men with chainsaws and other serious equipment. Frank is normally in the business of ‘maintenance’ gardening – not the business of overthrowing the dominance of the high-maintenance garden.
But he’s up for the challenge – I think – I haven’t heard back from him yet…
Over dinner with Frank, his lovely wife, and a fellow lodger at this place of high maintenance, we discussed an applied theology of gardening. How being made in God’s image means that we delight in bringing order to chaos. We are made to subdue and bring order (most of us, anyway…some prefer to create it!). Yet, we also exist in a world that suffers the effects of bad decisions and lack of foresight, of the ‘willy nilly’ and the ‘whatever I like’ and it causes suffering. Living in this world, living in God’s image, is going to be hard work. We’re going to need to call in help, serious help!
We’d enjoyed a meal together of pork chops ‘modena style’ – slowly braised in tomato and sage – accompanied by mixed roast vegetables. All the fruit of hard labour – the growing that is. The recipes themselves were so simple that I was able to lie on the sofa and read a book after setting them to do their work.
Later, we enjoyed vanilla icecream with an espresso poured over the top and a scattering of the leftover ‘failure’ of the Italian Praline (see previous post). The deliciousness of that failure encouraged me that good things can come out of hard work and failures.
I call that to mind as I look out the window at the bramble that is snaking its way around the spiky exotic plant that has no business being there. I look out and dream of a day when there will be roses and hydrangeas to delight my eyes.
The other night: #43 ‘Braised Pork Chops with Sage and Tomatoes, Modena Style’ and #44 ‘Mixed Baked Vegetable Platter’ with Frank, Miriam and the Lodger at my table.