When I was a child, some of my favourite stories were about gardens. At the top of the list, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett and The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde are both about opening up hidden and overgrown garden spaces for new life to flourish, creating places of healing and happiness.
On Tuesday afternoon this week, the Community Garden came alive with young children as the Under Fives and their parents and grandparents played with sand and water, planted runner bean seeds and made bird feeders. What a joy to see youngsters and grown-ups discovering this open space, sowing seeds, watering and nurturing them and being spiritually nurtured in the process. We may lose a few plants along the way as a two-year-old enjoys walking along straight rows of strawberries, but give him a watering can and he’ll soon learn what fun it is to water them!
Today, Friday, the birds (and the rain) have arrived. Blue tits, robins and a chaffinch were flocking round the bird feeder when I dropped in this morning. It reminded me of the moment in The Selfish Giant where the children, having been banished by the giant, return to the garden and melt his heart into love and kindness.
So we may get toddlers trampling our crops and pigeons eating our fruit, but at the same time smaller birds will feast on aphids and other pests and we’ll be inspiring gardeners of the future.
Isn’t this a healthy balance to strike? There has to be a future in working with wildlife and children!