Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Pets And Gardens - Part Two

Gentle Cookie purring all the day long
Gentleman Jaffa, the pacifist, on his cover
The ever-hungry Monster on his favourite chair
Young Taz, who likes being cuddled and wandering around the kitchen
Titch in his favourite place, under the boiler

Imagine my joy when my mum woke me up later that morning to tell me my bunny was still alive, having been fed several times after I’d gone to bed and been wrapped up, literally, in a roll of cotton wool and placed in a little box on a shelf in the heating cupboard till morning. It was nothing short of a miracle. Before I went to school that day I was allowed to feed him. After that, I was full of inspiration. With a hop and a skip and a jump I ran off to tell my teacher all about my bunny, which I called Easter, because Brian had found him then.


Thanks to the round-the-clock care from my wonderful mum, who nursed him and saved him - virtually from the brink of death - and as much help as a five-year-old could muster, Easter survived his ordeal, and through careful nurturing, had a great life. He slept on his bed of straw in the hutch, which my hero-of-a-dad built for him, scampered up and down the outdoor run nibbling the grass, and was given freedom to hop about indoors after I got home from school.


Through their love, my parents had demonstrated that a garden need not be solely a place for growing vegetables and flowers. There was no sign saying, ‘Keep off the grass’. It was not one of those pristine lawns with clipped edges. Instead, it had daisies and buttercups, sweet clover and baby-blue cats’eyes - those sweet little veronica flowers.


My friends and I made daisy-chains and buttercup-chains, and had fun picking buttercups to place under our chins and ask ‘Do you like butter?’ On sunny days we spread out rugs and brought out our toys and had teddy bear picnics and dollies’ tea parties, afterwards playing a game of rounders, or hide-and-seek amongst the lines of washing. The garden was a fun-filled place, secure and child-friendly. Best of all, it was a sanctuary for pets too.

Thus, I remember happy days in our garden, where I helped my mum hang out the washing, and was encouraged to sow seeds under the watchful eye of my dad, who raised crops of healthy vegetables and grew colourful nemesia, dreamy violet-hued geraniums, scarlet peonies, and the tiny flowers of London Pride, while I played with my Easter bunny and showed him off to all my friends.

As I look around Barleycorn, not forgetting our previous garden too - I think of all the plants and flowers our two sons have grown; the fun they have had as children, playing with their friends in their sand-pit, their paddling pool and sharing their toys; learning about all the wild creatures which come to visit; and the rescued pet cats and rabbits they have had - and I remember golden days in the garden of my childhood and the life-enhancing example my loving parents taught me about the all-encompassing qualities of a garden where family and friends, and pets, too, are made welcome.

18 comments:

Sheila said...

You write beautifully. Your story about Easter, the bunny, took me back to England and my childhood.
My sister and I spent our days, doing much as you describe, in our garden. Although our garden was loved and tended it was never so precious that we could not have fun. My mother always said 'my children are my flowers' and we were encouraged to have our own little spot; to grow seeds, and keep chicks.
Barleycorn sounds like a magical place, heaven on Earth for your cats. They look so happy and contented.
Thank you for your comment. The 2 year old was my mother.

A wildlife gardener said...

Thank you for visiting, Sheila, and for your generous comments. Just as your mum said her children were her flowers, I always regard my boys as the most precious flowers in the garden of my heart. I wondered when I read your story if it was autobiographical, because it read as if it was from the heart...a very moving chapter.

Thalia said...

Dear Wildlife gardener,

I am glad that Easter recovered from the tragic accident! This post was an absolute treat with such cute cat pictures!

A wildlife gardener said...

Like all vivid experiences, it has stayed with me all my life, Thalia, and through the example of my parents, who encouraged my affinity with animals, I learned about the sanctity of life. I do believe that, animals have a spiritual quality about them. I knew you'd like the cats!

RUTH said...

What a beautiful and moving post.

Sally said...

I couldn't agree more - beautiful post WG. Love the pictures of the cats.

A wildlife gardener said...

Thank you, Ruth and Sally. Ever since I have never been able to eat rabbits, because the story of Easter and his 'resurrection' always comes into my mind.

Libbys Blog said...

Thank you so much for visiting my blog! I have so loved reading about your lovely cats, I have 2 but wish I had lots more!!! Maybe when the girls have grown up and left home and I need some babies!!!!!

Libbys Blog said...

PS, I have just been reading further back on your blog and you have the most beautiful garden, total inspiration to me, I shall be back reguarly, may I add you as a link please, so I don't lose you lol!!!!!

A wildlife gardener said...

Libby, you are so very kind to make these lovely comments about my garden. I would be delighted to be added to link with you.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Those cats are all adorable and you are lucky that you are allowed to live with them. ;-)

Yesterday, when I read the story about the baby bunny I hoped that you had been wrong in your assumption and luckily you had been. :-) It seems that little bunny was lucky after all and lived a happy live.

You're very fortunate to have such wonderful parents!

Gotta Garden said...

I am so glad the bunny, Easter, made it! Your parents are amazing! And, look what that has produced...you, passing on these gifts to your boys!

I love your five cats! What personalities they have or that you have captured in your photos! If I had more land, I would love to have more dogs and cats...but, alas, in my neighborhood the four I have will have to do!

A wildlife gardener said...

I am very lucky indeed that all those cats have come to live here at Barleycorn, Yolanda, where they all keep me company when I'm working in the garden....and if I sit down for a rest, they sit on the seats beside me or stretch out by my feet and serenade me with their purrbox songs!

I was very fortunate to have wonderful parents who helped me with my menagerie of pets while I was growing up and encouraged my interest in gardening. Sadly, though my dad passed away 30 years ago and my mum 20 years ago, the memories of them are unforgettable and they remain close in my heart.

You are quite correct, gotta garden, when you say I learned it all from my parents who taught me well. Maybe that's why I became a teacher and later, a parent, and grew seeds and plants - with my two boys and more than a thousand schoolchildren (my surrogate children) - and took them on nature rambles and had little pets in the classroom where they had fun caring for the little creatures and drawing and painting pictures of them. I was very enthusiastic and their curiosity and interests stimulated me and kept me on my toes. It was such a privilege and I loved every minute.

Petunia's Gardener said...

So now I know about the bunny you mentioned in a comment to me. Like you said about Cookie, sometimes I'm not sure what I to know what they've been through. The animals sure seem to live in the here and now though. Regardless of the past, they just shine with happiness of their current state. A must say, I have to avoid all of those animal movies even if they have a happy ending. There is usually some hard stuff in their too. What a gentle and loving place is Barleycorn!

A wildlife gardener said...

You are correct, Petunia, and on mentioning that story I realised I hadn't written about it. i so agree with your comment about animals shining with happiness. I find it infectious, for they give me so much joy. Thank you for your very kind words.

Green thumb said...

Beautifully written dear wildlife gardener!
It was a joy to read about 'Easter'. I could feel the enjoyment you all would have had playing with him.
Even I had a Bunny in my childhood days and the innocence the creature had in its eyes evoked a feeling I never knew I had.

A wildlife gardener said...

You are so very kind to write such a lovely comment, Green Thumb, and I thank you for it. Animals are so full of trust. We owe it to them to be kind and gentle for their unfailing loyalty. They bring out the best in us and we're the lucky ones.

ELIZABETH said...

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