Luckily, the work of previous years, the hard landscaping work, soil improvement, and planting of plenty of shrubs and perennial plants, meant that I didn't need to do much hard graft in 2001, but just enjoy looking at it.

Regular tasks like watering, weeding and deadheading required little thought. This was a good thing, as my brain was somewhere else. Kay, my sister, died at the end of summer 2001, from an aggressive form of Multiple Sclerosis, diagnosed in 1996.

I remember picking the fruit from our apple tree, three days after Kay died. I remember noticing it was the best crop the tree had ever produced. Anyone who has experienced grief will understand why I felt like busying myself with picking apples in the days after Kay died, and they'll also understand why in the months that followed many of the apples ended up turning rotten, piled up in the shed.

The birds enjoyed them anyway. They continued visiting the garden just as they've always done, while the plants flowered in their turn, just as they've always done. And I watched it all happen, as I'd done for the five years previously.

"Nature takes care of it", my mother has often said, about many things. So I put my grief too in the hands of nature, and waited for the time that I, too, might look forward to spring.


Garden chair


Garden plan (link opens in new window)