The Unlikely Gardener


The Unlikely Gardener

Sunday, July 12, 2020

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“Gardening is an exercise in optimism. Sometimes, it is a triumph of hope over experience.” – Marina Schinz


For the Unlikely Gardener, hope triumphs over experience when experience fails to hope. My first memory of gardening is a misplaced photograph of my 18-month self taken in the hills of Montego Bay at a beautiful house in Kempshot, where my family and I lived briefly. My garden memories until 2018 consist of nothing else. However, in rural St James, my attorney-at-law mother moonlighted as a farmer for a few years. I have great recollection of that farm and fondly recall sitting in the passenger seat of her white Corolla as she delivered her produce to several hotels. This diversification of portfolio and income, as many mothers attempt to do, was a serious horticultural, life and character lesson within itself. “Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” (Robert Louis Stevenson). Of course, this lesson has come in handy in relation to my small herb and vegetable garden around the back.

Fast-forward to Kingston 6 and the present day... the Unlikely Gardener, hailing from a nicely landscaped apartment complex situated in Montego Freeport, St James, finds herself with a little over an acre of overgrown garden badly in need of a reverse French manicure.

Newly beautiful home with a fabulous live wall by Angelie Spencer dictated a beautiful garden (my view). However, the Unlikely Gardener soon found out that a beautiful garden amounts to a pretty penny. On top of it all, the Unlikely Gardener's partner and resident Chancellor of the Exchequer overturned, by veto, the garden budget and approved instead a meagre landscaping stimulus.

The garden is segmented into around four distinct areas which meant that there had to be four different plans. So naturally, after a landscaper put in a few “reasonably priced” plants in the bottom garden, the right top garden, the left driveway and the back section... money done, large portions undone without decorative blocking and grass was yet to be planted. What a dilemma! Also, to be honest, the landscaper's work was quite underwhelming and, in my opinion, and that of the resident Lord of the Treasury, not commensurate with the fee. What a sadness. The garden did not match house and the Unlikely Gardener's lush and serene country garden vibe was dashed... until she decided to do it herself.

The Unlikely Gardener, well determined, made several phone calls to older, wiser and extremely experienced mesdames who all advised that creating your ideal space takes time, several years to be exact, and that throughout the experience you, yourself, with each plant, will learn and grow.

From purchasing and transplanting new plants to removing others, struggling with a few and losing one or two on the way... to procuring grass, learning to lay and roll, replanting and repotting from mulching to Allamandas to Spathoglottis to Bromeliads, to Encyclias, Cattleyas, Oncidiums and Vandas... every day a new experience, experiment and a beginning. Here's before, after and along the way....

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