Sturdy, stocky and weather hardened; Farmer Crocker gives me a wave as I pass his Farm gate. Plump and rosy hued heathers bloom where he stands and a thought crosses my mind- do we become to look like our plants in the way that we become to look like our animals? Farmers in my village whose families have worked the land for generations know exactly what will grow and what plants have adapted to this windswept, wet location and they plant low, tough hardy plants which will withstand the wind and weather.
Where as I (a new-comer of only 30 years), still plant as though I had never listened to good advice. It I were to be a flower I want to be a willowy Delphinium with petals the colour of a Summer sky, or a peppery scented Lupin with blue and white pods with colours borrowed from a willow pattern plate. And I plant these flowers each year in the hope that the wind will never rise above a fragrant, soft and gentle breeze.
So each Summer, when a wind blows in from the South West with gusts strong enough to break the glass in a metal framed greenhouse I am usually to be found, tear stained and forlorn, tying up my delicate flowers to stakes. If you had visited me last weekend that is exactly what you would have seen. An angry wind strong enough to lift the door into the roof space and tear the roofing of my sheds tore over my garden, gathering strength as it passed the miles and miles of wilderness that is Dartmoor. Many of the Flanders Poppies, grown to commemorate the bravery of all those lives lost in the First World War, fell in the path of this wind. It devastated whole areas and tore the heart out of the garden and I wept for each plants struggle for survival as it was blown horizontal by the gale.
When I could stand it no more I drove into town for a late supper, dining late, and feeling reckless, giving up for one evening on all that I believe in, which is the commitment to tending my plants.
And when I got home…the wind had stopped.
There would be more than enough time tomorrow to inspect the damage, to mend the broken and help the plants to heal. Then, as though this had never happened I will put seed into compost to grow more flowers to replace those who fell, just like the old soldier of a gardener that I have become.