I was sitting outside the other day and I noticed just how many passionfruit are hanging on the vines. There are more than many – perhaps even many-many! I’m starting to think along the lines of passionfruit sorbet and pavlova and suchlike and really looking forward to harvesting some of the garden produce. Actually, come to think of it, the plum tree is also pretty laden down with fruit and so is the grapefruit tree and at least one of the olives trees. It’s only a matter of time before we’re knee deep in preserves, pies and chutneys – again.
Little did we know when we planted our first three fruit trees just over a decade ago that we’d end up with our own urban orchard. A quick count tells me that we have somewhere around 20 productive trees or vines: blood orange, calamondin, finger lime, three passionfruit vines, a bay tree (in a half wine barrel) and two grapevines (just planted) at the back. Then our original three: the ruby blood plum, Tahitian lime and pink grapefruit around the side of the house, along with an ornamental(ish) plum (which appears to fertilise the other plum), an olive tree and a blueberry bush. Moving to our (not very large) front garden, we have a black cherry, a lillipilly, two miniature apple trees, another olive and a cumquat. Oh, and a pear tree (also in a half wine barrel) and another bay tree (ditto).
What were we thinking? Or, more to the point, what was I thinking?! Every time we’ve done any serious work in the garden (redoing reticulation, putting in a small retaining wall, replacing the fish pond), I seem to have had a rush of blood to the brain and headed off to the local nursery / purveyor of fine fruit trees. Sometimes I just wandered in there to pick up some essential item relating to the current project… but the outcome is always fairly predictable: we suddenly need to find a space for yet another fruit tree!
Since we also have three raised garden beds for growing vegetables – and since I find seed propagation only intermittently successful, this also requires the occasional stop to select seedlings and, since I’m there…
I guess some people shop for yet another pair of natty high heels, others for that perfect piece of jewellery or technology… my weakness appears to be plants, specifically fruit trees. As long as I don’t go near the nursery section of the local hardware store or – even worse – happen to stop in at the more well stocked nursery, conveniently on my way home from work (if I take the long way home), then all is well.
So what is it about gardening, about planting a tree and watching it grow and, in time, become productive that has such appeal? Part of it is that work/home life tend to be busy, time is perennially at a premium and stress piggybacks all too easily on top of all that. So I find it relaxing to actively take time to potter around in the garden, to plant and trim, prune and mulch. The simple acts of watering the veggie garden and picking and eating a cherry tomato while I do so, of throwing the windfall fruit to the chickens and of noticing how much things grow day by day – these are amongst my meditative practices. They replenish my chi and make my world a better place.