Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I came to have a last visit to the walled garden of my childhood, at my maternal grandfather's home in Roscommon, and I left with a heavy heart, and one small stick from a twisted and rotting fig tree that has to be between sixty and 120 years old. The rest of the garden was unrecognisable except when remapped from my memories and now serves as a sheltered field for the new owner's cattle. Oh desecration of a gardener's inner sanctum; the brutish beast led by the brutish man to the final laying to waste of an environment that took over 100 years to bring to optimum production.

There were grapes here, and pears, apples and figs. All kinds of roots and marrows and cabbages. Flowers for the altar and the house . . . and the visit to the neighbour. Potatoes and turnips, tomatoes and cucumbers, – all traces are gone, and the neat box hedging has bolted into isolated islands of green, forming a partial tracery of beds, and walks, long gone.

I searched through the barren arms, of a moss laden, and dank tree — the last remaining fig tree —  and plucked what I hoped would be a viable cutting. Three months later, and this cutting now holds the roots of my adulthood, and the foundations of my future. It is both a wonderful and a frightening gift, that we have as human beings, the ability to invest so much meaning, into something so small.

Update Summer 2012: See the handsome chap now!

A long journey has been completed. Today, the 27th. of August 2012, was the day I had my first own grown fig for breakfast. It would have been even more delicious if the warm weather we normally associate with figs was still here, but autumn has definitely arrived. As I greedily consumed my first fig, I felt a kinship with all the gardeners, who had gone before me, and salute their constant efforts to work with nature, while moulding their environment, to their vision.

 PS. Why is that plants clone infintely well without deterioration, and other life forms  are programmed to self destruct over time?

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