Symbolically, and in reality, a garden is a place of happiness, purity and bounty.
There is a natural cycle to a garden. The tiny seed or seedling is planted with care in the soil, at a strategic point in the spring when frost is unlikely.
Sun, rain, soil, and the gardener’s skilled hand work together to coax out a kind of miracle. Sprouts emerge. Roots extend deep into the the ground, while stem and leaf reach for the sun. No gardener with a heart can go unmoved by this awesome phenomenon of growth.
Vegetables appear as part of the natural growing process. Sometimes the harvest is overly abundant. Sometimes it is miniscule. The natural elements, the richness of the soil, the gardener’s know-how, and the appetite and prevalence of voracious insects, all play a part.
When fall comes to these parts, the heartbreak of gardening has to be endured. Plants wilt and wither. Overripe fruits and vegetables rot on the vine or fall to the ground, becoming part of the soil.
Plants that took so much care and labour to nurture are now pulled up and piled up, to be used as mulch in next year’s garden.
Just as a flourishing garden is a symbol of something perfect and Eden-like, a fading garden is a reminder that all living things decline and go back to the earth.
This photo gallery, the images captured in the community garden spaces of the Ignatius Jesuit Centre, honours the necessary but often sad season of a garden’s decline.
It also serves as a tip of the hat to the labour of love that gardening is, and an acknowledgement that fall is a difficult transition time for those who grow their own food.
The harvest will be enjoyed into the winter months, and, rest assured, spring will return and the miracle will be repeated.