Nika and the Garden

by | Jun 15, 2023

My poor delphiniums! Not my dahlia! Oh, I loved that viburnum! Nika, stop eating my coreopsis!

The Garden of Earthly Delights? It sure is for Nika.

  • An archaeological dig site that has transformed the lawn into a health and safety hazard
  • A racetrack around the camellia bush where nothing is allowed to grow
  • Recently watered flowers providing mud to dig in
  • The hebe for rolling on when one is covered in mud (see above)
  • Newly planted shrubs, perfect for playing tug with: dog v. the grip of the earth
  • Twigs and branches to be found in every corner and transported into the house for “swaps”
  • A walking tour with the cat who takes her time deciding where to toilet
  • Staring matches with the local pigeons
  • The hose tap which, if you lick it forlornly enough for long enough, will be turned on by humans despite the multiple bowls of water available with cool, fresh beverages
  • The swing chair where you can climb atop a reading human and their book for some vestibular thrills
  • A circuit around which one can dance with one’s toys in the hopes that someone is watching from the window
  • Flowerpots galore, fresh from the nursery, perfect for shredding; contents a bonus

More Lord of the Flies than The Flower Fairies, I’m afraid.

She Learned That?

As the breeze of adolescence gently rustles through the house, we have come to understand how much inadvertent, self-propelled learning has occurred in the garden, and how much a den of iniquity that place is for a young dog.

“Can I say ‘I told you so?’”

It would be remiss of you not to.

The opportunities for indulging in the kinds of things that are prevented indoors by careful management.

A world without much guidance, save for the walls that would probably soon become scalable.

A teenager in a world of their own with the equivalent of fast cars, an unlimited credit card, and an audience of an admiring older brother who sometimes acts as an enabler.

Would it be fair on her to allow her to continue running wild, testing fences and walls, possibly getting more pushy with the local wildlife?

Time to start braking gently.

Fencing panels or hurdles strong enough to manage sheep
flexible enough to manage collie. 

Management Matters

Afternoons in a limited area marked by fences. Full of toys, good canine and human company, home comforts, and opportunities for heading indoors if the mood strikes. An observation station to watch the world go by (and to scowl at the local pigeons).

Placed on concrete to avoid tunnelling. Covered in chicken wire to prevent squeezing through. Bars on the outside to deter climbing over. From a human perspective, a maximum security facility, but for the dogs, once introduced carefully, a multisensory 3D cinema showing all of the latest blockbusters.

And a rather nice place to sit with them in the morning as they lie on the step and sniff the breeze (it just smells of coffee to me).

Supervised play in the garden at large, using the rewards so cherished (well, not all of them…my poor hebe) as opportunites for connection. “Oh what a lovely twig” echoing through the village as I applaud her circuits with her latest find.

The garden may be an adventure playground, but at the moment, one needs a ticket for admission.

“I Told You So”

I didn’t see it coming until I saw it coming. But there it is.

There are creeping buttercups taking over the soil where I’ve lovingly planted so many beautiful flowers. A deep network of runners allowing it to spread quickly throughout the entire garden, imperceptible until it’s almost ready to blossom, and impossible to fully uproot.

I analogise it to the unintended learning I’ve helped to sustain: unseen until it becomes an interference with design; resilient and persistent. Suppression wouldn’t and shouldn’t be an option, and there are places where it can continue to flourish, but management will be needed to prevent it taking over.

As we move through adolescence to adulthood, I’ll no doubt become increasingly aware of what has been flourishing beneath the surface. Much of it will be wondrous, I hope, but much of it will need support…
As will I.

Along with the occasional “I told you so.”

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