The first daffodil flower is about to burst out of the pod that’s appeared amid the green spears growing in our terracotta pot near our front door. We’re going to have bluebells this spring too. The viola seeds I planted a while ago are sprouting and will soon be clusters of cheerful little purple and yellow faces. We’ll soon have snow peas and carrots, spinach and basil, coriander and parsley.
It’s not a lot, just a few pots, but it’s more garden than we’ve had for a long time. It’s been several years since the summer we had a large vegetable patch filled with about 20 different vegetables and herbs, and four large fruit trees to enjoy.
That summer I think we had two, maybe three children, and as we got busier that little vegetable patch and all of our time got used up and I could only manage to look after two pots – one of petunias and one with a lemon tree.
Then the petunias and the lemon tree died, but as our number four baby grew and number five came along, I was glad not to have to worry about any watering or feeding plants, weeding them, or checking for insects.
When we moved into our current home I had no plans to garden. But gradually I’ve found over the last few months that I have a bit of free time as the children are growing a bit older and I’ve become more efficient with my time. So I surprised the family with a visit to the local nursery to stock up.
It feels so good to be growing things again. To be able to do something creative that I can get lost in for half an hour or so and that everyone will enjoy.
It is a grace that we don’t need to grow our own food, that we can just enjoy growing vegetables and flowers just for the fun of it. But in a sense I do need it. Something about nurturing a little seed into a plant that produces something is deeply satisfying and somehow feeds the soul.
St Fiacre is the patron saint of gardening, vegetable gardening in particular. His feast day is September 1, the first day of spring. Other saints associated with gardens, growers, or farmers include St Francis of Assisi, St Dorothy, St Isadore, St Urban, St Anthony of Padua, St Phocas, St Valentine, and St Patrick (he looks after organic gardens, apparently).
Pottering around tying stakes and plucking weeds has given me time to reflect on the natural cycles of growth, death, and regrowth, of more or less intense times in family life, and cycles in the spiritual life.
Gardening, even in a few pots on a verandah, is a great aid to prayer.
St Fiacre, pray for us.