I didn’t think I missed having a garden. Before I lived in Glasgow I lived with my family and we’d always had a garden but when I moved I lived in shared flats and never did. Sometimes we’d have a shared garden or yard area, but never anything that was allocated to just one particular flat.
This makes a difference. In shared spaces, I always feel just slightly awkward. Is my presence in the garden preventing someone shyer than me from using it? If I go out into the garden when my neighbours are there, will I be required to make awkward conversation? Who’s responsible for maintaining it? If I try to grow something in it will that annoy someone?
Perhaps I’m overly sensitive but it all meant that I just didn’t really use the shared spaces but I didn’t really mind. I could always go to a local park if I wanted to sit outside. Now that we rent a flat in Falkirk we do have our own garden space and it turns out that I did miss it, I just hadn’t noticed.
This past couple of weekends there’s been just enough sunshine for us to sit outside. Sure, it’s still Spring and it can still get chilly, so I haven’t quite abandoned my jumper yet, but just sitting in the sun and chatting nonsense, without feeling like I’m preventing anyone else from doing the same, is lovely. It’s a time of easy relaxation and when I’m sitting there I don’t feel like there’s anything else I should be doing. No chores that need my immediate attention, no responsibilities, just a chance to have a rest.
Then, of course, there’s the advantage of being able to get certain chores done more efficiently. In ten years of living in Glasgow I never once dried my clothes outdoors. I’ve always had access to washing machines and sometimes to tumble dryers, but dryers are expensive to run so I’ve never really used them. Instead, I’ve used drying racks, which are fine and do the job, but a bit more slowly. They take up space. Oh, and since heat is required to dry clothes this way, they cool your home down.
As I type, I sit in clothes that were air dried on the line in my garden. They smell amazing. I don’t care how good your fabric softener is, nothing quite manages to get that same clean laundry smell that you get from drying clothes outside. This weekend I managed to get through 5 loads of laundry this way. I don’t think the laundry basket has been empty since we moved in. I’m sorry to be so boring to be excited about this but I never really thought about it before and it’s making my life so much easier.
The third advantage that I’ve come across so far is that I now feel like I’m allowed to do gardening. I’ve been blogging about my attempts to garden here and there and it’s fun. I get excited every time I see a new seedling and I’ve had to reel in my ambitions a bit, given that I still have no idea what I’m doing and it’s easy to get carried away. I know some people do grow things in flats without gardens but I never would have done much beyond a pot on the windowsill.
So, consider my privilege checked on this one. Three things I get because I have garden access that others might not get because they don’t. Of course, I do have to pay rent on this place and it may be that there were flats available in Glasgow that had gardens, but I never prioritised them. City living has other advantages but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate what I have here. It’s very hard not to feel lucky, sitting outside in the sunshine.