I sat to down to write this, bar-heater blaring by my legs, overlooking a scene of windswept monochrome bleakness, and turned – just for a few seconds – to instagram. There I found myself garden-bathing in the early summer floral-overload of the Northern Hemisphere.
I confess I hung out there a little longer than I should. Apparently, in the last few days, Delos at Sissinghurst (UK) has been looking particularly good (@sissinghurstcastlegardennt, @troyscottsmith1) and Hermannshof in Germany is kicking ecologically-sound planting goals (@cassianschmidt). I’ve yet again been wowed by Dan Pearson’s humility before nature (@coyotewillow) and astonished by the horticultural virtuosity of Ed Flint (@rotheramblings) and Fergus Garrett at Great Dixter (@fergusmustafasabrigarrett).
I step back into my own reality from these momentary escapes feeling both gratified and deeply dissatisfied. I can’t tell if the result is a net gain or loss.
On the gain side, I’m reassured that life will re-emerge here in my (relatively) cold climate, and that one day I’ll again be swamped by towering perennials in full bloom. My longing (a deeply life-enhancing but curiously undersold benefit of gardening) is provided with a much-needed adrenalin shot, and I renew my commitment to all the prep-work that winter demands, with no immediate reward. My expectations are recalibrated, so that I head into the next season aiming higher than ever before, knowing that as much as I loved last spring, summer and autumn in my garden, I can do better this coming year.
On this loss side, I suffer from debilitating FOMO. I just want to be there, and see all this stuff with my own eyes. There’s even a whiff of indignation that it can all go ahead, in such exuberance and joy, in my absence. Looking at the pics of Chelsea nearly killed me. And while I’m not crippled by a sense of being an underachiever, the whispers of such voices that remain in my head are amplified to unnatural levels as I glory in the spectacular achievements of others.
But most of all, there’s a disquieting sense that I’m not giving my heart and head the necessary seasonal downtime. It’s as if I’m gorging on fruit and veg out of season, when the whole seasonal cycle is meant to impose the equivalent of intermittent fasting on the disproportionately and dangerously large chunk of grey matter that I dedicate to gardening.
Some part of me is romantically attracted to the pre-social media days when winter garden dreaming was limited to trawling through seed catalogues before an open fire – when the only stimulation that my hyperactive gardening brain received was that conjured by my own imagination.
But my indecision about the benefits or losses of inter-hemisphere garden-bathing via instagram seems powerless to alter my behaviour. I’m hopelessly addicted.
How about you?