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Friday, April 8, 2016

Charlotte Bronte & Gardening

The garden of the Bronte Museum
Haworth, England

In Charlotte Bronte's novel Shirley, the modernization of Robert Moore's textile mill puts many men out of work. One worker, who has a large family to support, eventually turns to gardening. One of the places he works is at the vicarage. There, in Caroline Helstone, he finds someone who guides him into his new trade. Together, the two discuss what types of plants should be planted where and when to create a beautiful garden.

My wife enjoys gardening. So over the years, we've created lots of flower beds. In fact, given California's frequent water shortages, we've given up altogether on having a lawn. While I've helped in the planning and creation of those beds, I've usually left the selection, planting, and maintenance of those beds to her. In the last few years, the demands of work, a succession of neighbors who let their children yell, scream, shriek, and shout when they play, and numerous competing interests, have detracted from my wife's love of gardening. So this year, I've decided to help out a little, a few hours each week, when I can.

I don't enjoy spending hours on my knees or butt. Still, weeding provides a certain amount of satisfaction. When I clear a bed of unwanted plants, I can better appreciate the plants we actually want in the beds. I've also been able to take my animal aggressions on truly tenacious (Or dare I say obnoxious) plants. One of the latter was an asparagus fern. In dealing with the latter, I emulated Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, by using an axe to dig out a shrub-worthy root system. 

Interesting that I would invoke a novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, whom I've never read. But then, he's another author who likes the classics. His most popular creation was Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I wonder if he'll ever get around to mashing-up a novel by the Bronte sisters?

Then again, perhaps I shouldn't give him any ideas...

A beautiful flower from the Bronte Museum garden.
(Sorry, I don't know the name of this one).

One day, while cutting all the dead fronds from a Watsonia, I pulled a little too hard, and the bulbs came up in my hand. Thankfully, my wife inspected them that night, and told me that the bulbs naturally die after awhile, and these particular ones had reached their expiration date.

Watsonia? Could that be a sign of my wife's love for Sherlock Holmes stories? I'll have to ask her about that.

Many English people take great pride in their gardens. Then again, so do many Americans. Our gardens may never resemble those in England, as we don't receive similar amounts of rain. Nor do we experience the same temperature range. Still, it'd be nice to create a garden as beautiful as that in the Bronte Museum in Haworth. After all, part of my love of England stems from the island's natural beauty. 

At least it's a challenge, and a way for me to grow.

Dragon Dave

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