I am not a natural gardener. The archetypal male who believes the only things worth planting are those that you will one day be able to harvest and eat. Aside from a brief childhood spell where I took delight in taking pansy seeds and snowdrop bulbs and helping guide them towards flowering; it has usually been about the crop.
Back when I was a teenage scoundrel, I took a bag of mistletoe berries into my woods. My hands, stiff with February cold, I ran them over bark brail of branches. Read stories in the trees cracks and wounds, translating these into openings for my translucent, sticky pearls. Months later, checking to see which holdfasts had survived dry summer and animal weeding, I took a pride totally unrelated to my planned reward a couple of years hence of a nice Christmas earner.
A few years later and I was scattering bluebell seeds in the same woods. Trying to encourage a mass of nodding flowers as an act of remembrance. Changing the local environment to reflect the ecological disaster that had made my heart barren.
The fun went out of mistletoe farming after that. However, there was still some small satisfaction in seeing the plants I had introduced thrive. While the matriarchal gardening gene might be absent, the simple human joy of being partly responsible for growth is clearly somewhere under the surface.
These days, the subtle ecology of my heart has been restored. Love flourishes within it. This might explain a returning desire to grow things. Granted it is still in male mode – edible crops only – but I want to raise plants. I look at Tim’s balcony in Life On Mars Towers and I envision filling it with bags of black soil from which will rise bell peppers and cherry tomatoes.
Canalside not offering me the deep, well-drained stretch of land needed to charm asparagus crowns into appearing, I have started a pot garden. Every morning, the sand of sleep still in my eyes, I check the progress of my basil, oregano and the greenery which I hope may one day turn into chilies. As they all push higher, groping ever sunward, I experience childlike awe at seeing my seeds turn into plants. Even before I have anything to eat, I have already harvested enchantment.