Saturday, July 12, 2008

Big plans

There are some parenting moments that have been a long time coming and absolutely worth the wait: the first time my girls wandered into my bedroom together to say 'good morning'; Lucy and Nell playing quietly together with their toy animals; Lucy spontaneously kissing Nell as they hung over the sofa watching Charlie and Lola. The other day I had another big one: planning a garden with my girls.

Figuring out the backyard is getting to be a priority. The privacy went when we cut down the huge trees that destabilised our foundations. The lawn went with the coming of the dogs. The plantings are pretty shabby after drought. And there's more blackberry than you might at first think. When I look out the window my heart sinks at the ugliness of it all. The girls have dubbed a section of the yard 'the tar pit' and it's well named. It's to act.

I've been avoiding the issue. I stick things into the ground so that I can eat or pick them later on but I can't visual things in 3D, or 2D for that matter, and I've got no real sense of how plants will look together, or what will thrive where. So pulling together a space the size of an average suburban yard is daunting. But Lucy is keen. She has the colours chosen: pink, yellow and blue. She's figured out the plantings: sunflowers, geraniums, and daisies. And she's designed the new beds around the cubby house. Nell agrees with it all ('What do you think, Nellie?'; 'Desth'). The absolute confidence and arrogance of a three year, so often the source of my internal screams and gritted teeth ('No Mummy, that's not a P it's a D and it says ssssss'), comes into its own in this scenario. I'm really quite excited.

And if it all looks hellish and nothing works, I'll just blame the kid.


Ariane said...

That is pretty cool. I wonder how many projects could be made less daunting by having convenient kiddy scapegoats? :)

I don't think I'm kidding about that, I am seriously thinking about what I've been putting off due to risk of failure...

Penni said...

How lovely!

I am not a gardener at all, and like you, I find it really hard to envisage a finished product, especially when planting is a sporadic exercise dependent on how much left over we have at the market after fruit and veggie shopping. I have to think about my garden in small manageable patches. Lucky we have lots of trees and a flora reserve across the road to rest my eyes upon when the weed invested clay pit that is the rest of our garden gets too much. I've made a garden bed around a tree and planted it up, and raised some little native geraniums from seeds (which are still teeny-tiny after months but very green and alive still - I am so proud of them). A few surprise bulbs have emerged as well as the ones I planted so I am excited about what they might be. There's lots of nodding daffs in the paddocks around us which brings me a great deal of joy - hopefully some will nod at us soon.

innercitygarden said...

So long as you get a mixtures of ground level, mid-level & taller things you should be fine. I tend towards a 'plant em all and see what wins' approach to ornamentals. Groups of odd numbers tend to work well too. Get Nell to decide where to plant bulbs, she's probably not learned about straight lines yet. And yes, if it doesn't work straight away, it's still a work in progress.

Jo said...

Hi Kris, mindlessly trawling the bloggy universe, clicking on sidebar links that looked interesting, found your blog, and realised I live just over the hill from you! And that I met you a couple of years ago at the Steiner playgroup! (Way too many exclamation marks there, but coincidences are exciting!!!) You just had Lu then, and were vastly pregnant with Nell - we must only have crossed paths a few times. I'm so glad you have a Nell; I do too, mine is 8, and I don't know any others under 60.

The random connections in blogdom are getting ridiculous though - a couple of months ago I followed a link from an American blog to Little Jenny Wren, and there was a photo of my oldest dughter's sewing box - she had been to one of Jenny's doll-making workshops, and I realised that Jenny must live a few blocks away from me as well. I think it is an omen, and we must all do lunch. And I can't believe that in nine years of living in this house I have never tramped over the top of the hill and discovered 'the area'. I have always walked down the hill on my tramps instead, as I am inherently lazy, and my children whine when forced to walk up hills, but now I have been inspired.

I am loving your blog - that sociologist's touch of framing domestic details in a wider cultural context lifts it right out of the ordinary. But it's more than that, it's the honesty of the raw emotions that you share, set against the little jewels of domestic joys. It's a life like mine, but more elegantly phrased. Madly jealous of your often brilliant writing, but grateful because you have reminded me of the significance of my small domestic, parenting life.

Anyway, if your three year old would like to be reintroduced to my three year old (Imogen. Small, determined, loud, quite nice dimples) then you'll find my email address at my website, and perhaps we could get together and talk about The Importance of Composting and other such topics of mutual interest...

Kris said...

innercity, ariane - it's very liberating, blaming it one the kids. I'm not good at being a novice - and I am a novice when it comes to things like design - and it's lovely to go in without expecting to things to be quite perfect.

Penni - for me, the best bits about gardening are the things that come from seeds and the things that I've inherited without knowing; I guess both are unexpected and thus a gift. A paddock with daffodils is a fine thing to live by, and bulbs always creep under fences if you wait long enough.

Jo, yes please. I'd love to catch up to discuss Important Issues and give the three year olds a chance to be loud together - how lovely. But I can't get to your website via your little head-thingy in your comment; I'm not sure if it's a blogger thing, a mac thing or a me thing. I'll try again at work. Or could you just leave your url address in a comment box? Look forward to it.

Jo said...

One thing about me - I am seriously technologically incompetent. You can email me at

Sorry I didn't get back to you sooner, but I have been in Adelaide this week, visiting my grandmother who will not live for very long. Bittersweet. So glad that I had the chance to say goodbye, and that grandma is at home with all her favourite people taking care of her, but grannies should live forever.

BTW, love your trendy dad. My dad had a powder blue safari suit that he wore on every formal summer occasion until the late 1980's when his children wised up and refused to be seen in public with him any more until he bought some new clothes!

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