This weekend I barged my way into a lot of borders. I wriggled under prickly raspberry stems to tug out buttercups and squeezed between the black elderflower and a red brick wall, to prise out nettles. I felt cumbersome and clumsy, my giant clodhopping feet pushing plants aside every step.
But as I became absorbed in my task, and began to piece together the subtle comings and goings of the intricate world I had imposed myself on, I began to feel very humbled and very small.
Just above my head, the remnants of an old blackbird’s nest were slipping through the vines of the clematis. I remembered last year’s fledglings, beaks relentlessly open.
Tucked behind the base of the clematis were a heap of empty snail shells, hollow fragments of a passerine feast.
My trowel uncovered a couple of split walnut shells, so that’s where the squirrels hid them.
As if to confirm my suspicions that nature doesn’t depend on a gardener's meddling, even my favourite tulip this year was one that I didn’t plan. A cross-pollination resulted in an exquisite cream and red striped bloom. And in decline, it is still beautiful.