Passionate about gardening


Cookmaid with Still Life of Vegetables and Fruit,  Nathaniel Bacon, c.1620-5. Tate Britain.
I saw this painting yesterday in Tate Britain and it caught my eye because of all the lovely garden produce.  Fancy being able to grow  marrows and cabbages and pumpkins and all that lovely fruit!  I aspire to that!  My project in the garden over the next few weeks is to get improving the soil so that I can plant crops in the spring and have my garden grow wonderful things!  Earlier in the year I was much taken by the ‘no-dig-gardening’ that I had heard about, and I watched the Youtube clip again, of Paul Gautschi talking and showing his amazing plot bursting with crops on the no-dig idea.  It works on the principle of layering organic matter on your soil – so vegetable peelings and grass clippings etc, and letting the rain and sun and natural processes do the rest, filtering goodness into the soil, suppressing weeds and minimising water evaporation – just like nature.

What struck me about Paul Gautschi is that he is brimming with enthusiasm.  Gardening isn’t hard work for him; he loves it – it’s his passion.  When I came across the painting I loved the story of the artist as much as this piece: Nathaniel Bacon was not a professional artist.  He was an amateur.  He was skilled, clearly, but he was an amateur artist.  He had a passion for painting, and so he painted!  He also had a passion for gardening and he grew all kinds of things, including melons, on his Suffolk estate back in the day (1620’s).  And every item depicted in the painting grew in England at the time.  Here are two people following their passion, feeling such joy and fulfilment in their pursuit, and unconsciously spreading that joy to others.

And then I thought of a farmer I met in the summer who was following his passion – quietly and unassumingly, and bringing so much joy to himself and many, many people around him.  Farmer Ken, near Stogumber in Somerset loves growing flowers, and after a successful spell in his garden, he harvested the flower seeds and the following year enlarged his garden so he could grow more flowers.  At the end of that year he harvested the seeds and wanted a bigger space to grow his flowers, and thought of a section of one of his fields that never produced crops like other parts of the field.  So he gave that area over to his flowers, sowed the harvested seeds, and watched them grow.  And people saw this wonderful sight – from nearby, or from the top of the Quantock hills,  and came to see the field.  And Farmer Ken mowed a walkway through the flowers and installed a bench so that people could sit there awhile.  And everyone who went to see, couldn’t help but smile!

And it made me think that somehow doing the things that make your own heart sing, have a way of making other people’s hearts sing too.  The interests that make you feel alive, have a way of making other people feel alive too!  So, ‘live your dream, and wear your passion.’ *


Me in Farmer Ken’s field 🙂

*The Holstee Manifesto 2009


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