I’m fascinated by trees, like many other humans. For many years their charisma and mystery, their relatively long lives and comparatively sheer size have enchanted and inspired the human imagination. Fred Hageneder writes of this relationship in The Living Wisdom of Trees: “The entire spectrum of human existence is reflected in tree lore through the ages: from birth, death and rebirth to the age-old struggle between good and evil, and the quest for beauty, truth and enlightenment.”
A change of scenery. Headspace. Being reminded of the bigger picture. Friends. Family. These are the things that restored my energy in August. Work, childcare, studying, laundry, meals… the cyclic routine of our everyday lives, good and normal things, started feeling exhausting after the lockdown...
Gardens are teachers. The joy and satisfaction I experience when I spend time in my garden come from a deeply rooted relationship. As I tend my garden, it tends me and my need to nurture, create, and build a relationship with nature, or the non-human world. I tend sick plants, plant seedlings, water pots, add compost. I decide where to create borders, which plants to thin, how to prune shrubs and trees, how often to deadhead flowers. But the garden has a life and agency of its own...
But waiting is part of life, for all things, and there’s value in waiting too. Waiting, either actively or passively, is simultaneously an act of acceptance and resistance and anticipation. Accepting the discomfort of uncertainty, yet resisting the urge to become stuck while anticipating change.
It's hard to live far away from your family during the pandemic and the distance feels immense when you need to process a loss or grief. So, I keep walking, despite the fickle weather. I keep writing, despite the stale words. And I look for wildflowers and listen to whispering trees.
March was a great time to start identifying Ireland’s plant species. We spent more time outdoors as the days became warmer. It was incredible to see the first spring leaves shimmering on trees and shrubs and the forsythia and magnolias blooming in suburban gardens re-energised my lockdown spirit. Even though I was excited about this new adventure, it felt a little daunting and I was uncertain where to start.
I’m always stopping on walks to examine flowers, shrubs, and trees but I'm not familiar with many of the plant and bird species in Ireland and I find this weirdly unsettling. This is where ‘Wild Flowers of Ireland and Britain’ come in - I’m hoping to learn more about Ireland by identifying as many plants, trees, and grasses as I can this year. I’d love for you to join me on this adventure!