To reach our beach we need only walk along a footpath between two neighbouring houses. These neighbours have turned this public esplanade into a garden of beauty.
At the end of many early morning walks I return to the garden with handfuls of seaweed, mostly kelp that has washed in with a north easterly swell; a gift from the sea. After a storm I may fill several 30 litre bags with seaweed. This then sits covered in the compost area until I have a place to dig it into the garden.
When we first arrived here more than three years ago, the clay soil was heavy when wet, and it dried out and cracked quickly in the hot summer sun. Now, after four years of added seaweed, compost, grass clippings and mulched leaves and twigs, the soil is loose, friable and holds water well without getting sticky.
I allow many of my favourite greens to go to seed – summer and winter lettuces, kale, orach, fat hen, chickweed, amaranth, bok choy, etc. Much of the garden is a year round self sown mesclun mix. Lucia and I eat salad every day of the year from this wild, rich, tender and tasty mix of greens. In addition there are often surprise self sown plants popping up in the garden – tomatoes, passionfruit, alpine strawberries, pineapple guavas….The list goes on and on.
You give nutrients and love to the soil and plants, and they give so much back. One feels incredibly grateful for the freely given abundance of nature.
The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.
Dorothy Gurney 1858 – 1952
John Haines is the author of In Search of Simplicity: A True Story that Changes Lives, a startlingly poignant and inspiring real-life endorsement of the power of thought, belief and synchronicity in one’s life.
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