Rewilding, My Ass

The back garden is a bit of a mess. Again. Overgrown, weed ridden. That rusty, creeper-submitting trampoline in the corner that nobody’s been on in a decade. You get the picture.

It’s lovely.

I’m rewilding, you see. Rewilding, as you all know, is the return of a habitat to a natural state for purposes of conservation and environmental improvement. So that’s what’s happening down my back garden, missus. The bees and the little bugs and the hedgehogs and the… the… worms, and such are all being given a natural, un-tampered-with place in which to placidly co-exist…

Yeah, right.

You’re fooling nobody, Armstrong. Nobody.

That garden has always been a bit of a mess. Not so much because you’re a lazy bastard but because you’re not all that committed to order and beauty in your environs. Certainly not committed enough to put the hard hours into it.

At this moment, Midsummer, the place is a riot of brambles and tall weeds in full bloom. Winter almost comes as a relief sometimes, when the growing finally stops and falls back for a while.

My neighbour only makes matters worse. He’s one of those tidy buggers. A beautiful garden with everything in its place. He’s the best neighbour in the world, just too darned organised. He’s making me look bad.

“He’s retired”, I say to myself, “he has time of all this raking and bagging and clipping and such.” But there I go again, only fooling myself. If I were retired, I don’t think I’d be mulching with the same gusto that he is. In fact, I don’t think I’d be mulching at all.

So the garden brings bees and birds aplenty. It also brings a regular visit from that other tiny burrowing creature, Guilt. I find it hard to enjoy my garden without feeling guilty about it. It is a symbol of my general uselessness. I mean, look at me. I’m sitting here typing this crap when I could be out there dead-heading something or even just cleaning out the garage for Chrissakes.

And things mount up. That universal tendency toward Atrophy is evident everywhere around my homestead. Every day that nothing is done leaves more to do. I become morbidly fascinated by abandoned buildings and ruins. The process of how all neglected things follow only one course and all end up in the same condition. Fucked.

Of course, I have a list of things to do. It dances around in my head, in a long T-Shirt, to some half-forgotten punk beat. It sticks its tongue out at me and tips me a middle finger. I try to ignore it and do the dishes instead. I can manage that much.

As I look out at my garden now. The house sparrows are down at the water bowl - drinking then flying up to sit on the back fence and wipe their beaks, first one side then the other, on the edge of the wood. Sometimes a large bird or a wayfaring cat may startle them but they never go far away. They like my back garden, you see. They like the meadow qualities it increasingly demonstrates. They are happy out there.

And here’s the thing.

So am I.

I really like it. I really, really like it.

I don’t crave any pin-perfect, hyper-organised yard. I admire my neighbour’s endless handiwork but I don’t envy it. I like things rough, I guess. I’m that rough kind of a man. I’ll go out in a minute and top up the water in the bowls and put out some seed. I’ll enjoy the comings-and-goings of the day via occasional peeks through my kitchen window (which needs a wash, tick) and it will bring me much pleasure.

I like the Wilding. Even if it’s not the real reason that my back garden is in shit. The gentle sounds of the creatures who live there. Wilding suits me just fine.

I just wish I could stop feeling so darned guilty about it all.

It’s spoiling my buzz.


Fles said...

We "re-wilded" our back garden for two decades. The cats, birds and little creatures loved it, but I suspect it affected property prices. During lockdown we finally bit the bullet: I ripped out the rotted decking (decking seems like a nice idea but without an awful lot of maintenance it's just a huge mistake - and getting it up ain't easy: I broke a hammer and had to get quite handy with a crowbar before it was all gone). We had to get a small van to take all the accumulated rubbish away, but now we've paved the middle, put in a wildlife pond (which seems to have attracted a pair of toads!) and my missus has selected and cultivated a number of plants on the wide borders which bees buzz around all the time. Then the birds come for the insects and the cats come to eye-up the birds. It isn't all neat and tidy, just not quite so neglected, and it's now possible to sit in it and enjoy it. I think the ideal is to let nature take hold but not to let her run away with the whole thing.

Jim Murdoch said...

I have not, am not and will not ever be a gardener. The new house has a back yard which we call a garden but it's not much of a garden. It's Carrie's project and I'm leaving her to it. It's a work in progress and I think that's one of the main things I hate about gardens; you never get to the end of them. Books you finish, TV shows you finish, gardens keep on growing. I don't mind wild gardens and ours is going that way. Intentionally. I can appreciate the work that goes into a tidy garden too and if someone else wants to put the work in then let them have at it. Just don't expect me to get involved. I take the bin out and bring it in and Carrie's bird food basket too from time to time but that's it. I've sat on the new bench once for about five seconds just to say I had. My father wasn't a gardener. He did the necessary, mowed the lawn and trimmed the privets but that was it and after his death until my mum's passing I dutifully did the bare minimum, joyless I should add. Carrie is, as you will have gathered, aiming to attract birds and I don't mind the birds. I could devote ten minutes a day to their care and I would but I'm not sure what I'd do with the garden if Carrie goes before me. Not something I want to think about.