My Writing Day: Heather Taylor

It started with the digging out of an invasive type of fuchsia.

It believed too much of its own publicity at the expense of other, more subtle beauty, choking the roots of the variegated Ilex and smothering the Pulmonaria saccharata. And so the Phygelius rectus had to go. The roots were thicker than fingers, clutching the ground tightly. I excavated meticulously. Not one tip could remain.

I swore through my sweat in the garden and reasoned through my tears in the therapy room. All I wanted was to make sense of things. Writing helped. So why, since April, had the words stopped germinating?

So, I dug. I trowelled. I sifted stones and unwanted roots. I forked in manure. My bed smelled of that first breath on late November mornings. What happens overnight to produce that fertile odour? The ground revives itself. It does. What happens in the dark, below the surface? While we sleep, with no human meddling, there’s a fast fermentation, then, that bouquet before sunrise. That’s the smell, the aroma of my bed, my border, ‘six inch under’.

And now, while root and worm wrestle in the cold, lightless damp, there are leaves skittering on the surface, scratching in swarms. I don’t quite understand their language. What could this dead, dry vegetation be trying to say?

So I tidy and clean tools and sharpen shears. And in my tidying I find a black bin bag behind the potting shed. It is weighty. I untie the knotted top and the sack breathes over me the ripe November dawn. I inhale deeply and rejoice in this rich, friable leaf mould.