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  • Writer's pictureToni Kenyon

6 things I learned about me and my garden during the Covid lockdown

Some days it felt like I’d woken up in an episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Early on, when we learned that we should wear masks and gloves to the supermarket, my mum made me a beautiful mask complete with flowers on the front.

I put that mask on, together with my gloves and close fitting clothes that I could throw into the laundry the minute I got home and I promptly had a panic attack. I had to strip everything off, go outside and stand in my garden and calm the hell down.

I’ve discovered the garden is my “go to space” for everything that ails me.

That pretty mask has been sitting on the door handle of my bedroom ever since.

I didn’t realise how profoundly confronting it would feel to me, being asked to wear something over my mouth and nose before I stepped out of the house.

Covid was the “sh*t icing” on the mud cake of my life

For quite some time now, I’ve met with friends on a regular basis to write.

We sit together, have a lovely cup of herbal tea and/or coffee and the collective ‘creative vibe’ (or maybe the peer pressure) helps each of us to put words down on the page.

For the last twelve months, my life has been turned upside down. There are many factors that contributed to the upheaval, but things were beginning to come right. The upshot of my upside down life meant that I’d been struggling to write for a long time.

Covid was just the end for me. I wrote to my friends, in a whiny, (private) online post:

“I can't write at the moment, I'm terrified to try... I'm hoping that I'll be able to get over this and get back to something soon. But life's been so upside down for such a long time...Way before this Covid stuff hit--Covid's just been the sh*t icing on the mud cake I called 'my life' for the last twelve months…”

Long periods of time to create did nothing for my Muse. The only thing that has helped to get me through the uncertainty and drama has been the steady rhythm of my garden.

  • The sun comes up every morning and sets every night.

  • The Blackbirds continue to turn over the mulch in the garden (despite my careful placement of netting over delicate seedlings).

  • The possums and local cats continue to use the fenceline as their personal neighbourhood super highway.

  • Seeds continued to sprout and greens demanded to be harvested.

Lockdown gives you time to plan

Long days of going nowhere and doing nothing sound like a wonderful thing at the outset, but a few weeks in and I started to think about the future…

  • What is my new ‘normal’?

  • How do I want to live my life?

  • Am I doing what really gives me joy?

Those questions brought me right back round to the things that I hold dear in my life.

In no particular order:

  • My family

  • Being sober

  • My garden

  • My writing

  • My pets

When I looked at that list (aside from the ‘family’ who live in London and New York) there was no real reason for me to want to leave the house anyway…except maybe to get to a garden centre to pick up some top soil, or get to the other side of Auckland to pick up the chickens that I’d ordered during lockdown.

With the help of technology, I can have everything I need and want right here without leaving the section.

Which brings me to:


Everything happens so s-l-o-w-l-y during lockdown.

I have a chicken house that I ordered online (oh, that lovely technology again…) but only half of it has arrived because courier companies can’t keep up with the demand. They’re at least three weeks behind on their deliveries.

Back to planning...plenty of time for that when you’re waiting for goods to be delivered.

And for some strange reason, the delays haven’t bothered me. I think it has something to do with being a gardener. You can’t hurry seeds along. They come up (or don’t in some cases) in their own sweet time.

You can’t hurry the harvest either.

You learn to enjoy the journey. You plant your garden and you wait.

That second half of the chicken house will arrive and so will the chickens. Watch this space!

Good health is everything

My DH (dear husband) has become a covid expert. It’s his nature, whatever’s going on in the world, he wants to know about it. My nature is to (try to) ignore it and go out in the garden and plant something.

Watching world events unfold fascinates him.

Watching something grow from a tiny little seed into nourishing food fascinates me more.

I’ve been singing the “Grow Food not Lawns” song around here for ages.

DH has been vehemently opposed to tearing up the lawn to plant food.

Covid has changed all of that.

He’s helped me build a hoop house so we can grow more food. He won’t admit it, but he’s rather looking forward to the chickens arriving as well.

We’re determined to make a go of turning our urban back garden into a post-covid version of “The Good Life.”

My new ‘normal’

I still don’t really know what my new ‘normal’ is or how it’s going to look, but having put these words down (the first words I’ve written in months) I’m feeling better about things.

Writing does that for me.

A bit like working in the garden.

But what I do know after more than two months of living and working at home, worrying about family members overseas and constantly being ‘aware’ of anyone within two metres of me, is that my life has profoundly changed.

But two things have not:

  1. Writing brings me Peace.

  2. The garden is my Pantry.

I’m looking forward to sharing both of them with you in the future.


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