I have just been clearing Stone Cottage garden. It’s looking tidier – but not that tidy. Over the years I have come to love the uninvited. The plants that grow out of the cracks in the paving stones or on old walls or in corners I leave untended. Sometimes these plants are called weeds but that is a bit plantist so I try to avoid that term.
We are having such a good run of sunshine in England this year, that seeds of all sorts are finding opportunities to sprout. And those little bits of green, we sometimes call weeds, are so skilled at making use of any opportunity and it seems a crime to deny them that chance. After all, it’s not their fault that their place in our garden-narrative is as the antagonist.
We also have House Sparrows in the loft that keep us awake at night, and a couple of House Martens along the covered passage between the house and the outbuilding. These little creatures are currently pooing everywhere. I think we may also have a vole in the garden. Morgan, the whippet, certainly seems to believe there is something living in a hole in the ground behind one of the dense bushes.
Nomadic plants, birds and voles don’t recognise the cottage’s very small portion of the Pennines as being private property. They are too busy surviving to worry about such things. I’m certainly not a threat to them. I like that. To not be a threat to another living creature is a good thing; it’s a nice feeling. If you ever travel to Samye Ling Buddhist Monastery in Scotland you’ll see what I mean. This very calm and unthreatening place attracts all sorts of creatures (not just human). Truly, you’ll see wild rabbits hopping about, pheasants, peacocks, dozens of different types of birds and yes, some weeds.
Of course, in Britain we don’t have animals – poisonous snakes and spiders – that could be, unintentionally, a serious threat to us. Obviously when an uninvited visitor like that arrives, you have to take steps to have it removed. I am writing from a relatively safe environment where the uninvited will be pretty meek.
I do remove uninvited plants from the paving and flower beds, but not all. I love their miracle. There is more art to their presence than there is to the refined order of the bits I have spent hours clearing, planning and planting. Art is always spontaneous and unplanned. As humans we must not work against nature, remodelling it to suit our sensibilities, we must work with nature to create an environment that is suitable for all.