This is the second garden my wife Marjorie and I have made, and should you think that practice makes perfect, or that second ones are bound to be easier than first ones, this account may be a surprise. It may even serve as a warning that, if you are not careful, gardening can take over your life.
A search has been made through our memories for indications of motivation. Why gardening, when we might have been doing something else? Why here; why bother with such a ruined place when it must have been so clear to everyone else that the place was simply not worth bothering about? Yet life seems most enjoyable when you are bothering about something and are fully engaged on the spot with whatever is at hand. A simple record of having done this and then that, and of having used this and that plant, would be an artificial formula if no further reasons were provided. It would leave us out of the picture. Plans and diagrams arise out of feelings, and these are generated from past experiences, some of which reach back to early times. Therefore, it seems that we are indispensible and so an element of biography is included.
The book divides into four parts. ‘The Apprenticeship’ begins with early memories, observations and encounters which have not been forgotten, and now seem relevant to the story. There is some account of our ‘wilderness’ years when, after our union, we set out modestly to travel to discover the island we belonged to, and which we found to be perfectly adequate. Our vision is undoubtedly insular and provincial and simple, but it has provided fully the stimulus we have required to come to feel able to take part in the culture and to try to contribute ourselves.