GARDENING is a humanising occupation usually undertaken alone, but increasingly with a companion.
Whether this chaperone takes a truly active part in the planting and preparation or simply acts on an advisory level is immaterial, either makes it worthwhile for both.
Today's column is not meant to touch on the morbid, but it must be clear to all who grow plants that when a partner dies or becomes seriously ill, the total and utter joy goes out of the garden.
How many fine gardens do you remember from the area in which you spent your childhood and how many now remain?
Very few I wager. Oh yes, widows and widowers will struggle to keep the garden as it was when the couple were working as one, but in most cases the exercise is futile and short-lived.
Without a duo to manage the garden it too dies, gracefully or disgracefully.
Following a bereavement or serious illness, far too many struggle with a garden legacy they never wanted.
Imagine trying to maintain a quality lawn or huge herbaceous border which someone else has managed for half a lifetime or being left with a large plot that requires high maintenance?
It simply cannot be done, and the survivor must find the strength and ability to move on. The person does not have to leave the family home or garden or anything like that, but simply face the fact that the garden needs to change with the altered situation.
Large areas can be reduced with fencing or a living screen (hedge). Another option would be to plant the area with shrubs which don't need much looking after. The hidden area will always be there along with the memories.
Replace small and medium sized lawns with gravel, grass over herbaceous areas, and level the likes of rockeries and raised beds. It will cost of course to have all this done but it will make the area as maintenance free as is possible.
Anyone with a modicum of intelligence will surely admit that when someone dies (or becomes incapacitated) their energy remains, so too a kind of spirit, a presence, which continues to nurture and mind us. We can draw from that and come to know the eternal, the continuum of life.