Hi, I’m Sarah O’Neil, also known as Sarah the Gardener and I live beside the sea. We haven’t always lived here and have been on a bit of a journey to get here.
We started out in a small house, with a tiny backyard in the centre of Auckland. We had ordinary lives and a toddler, and a small baby and we lived city dweller lives. However, a shock diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis prompted us to look at life a little differently and so we made a radical decision that led to a dramatic change and probably one of the biggest blessings in our lives.
We sold up and moved to the country. We bought 3 acres of land in what we later discovered was a reclaimed swamp and set about making a better life for ourselves there. It was the best decision ever and we have thrived in a rural lifestyle and have adapted to the role of country bumpkin quite nicely, although (even today) our farmer neighbours still get a chuckle when that old city slicker shine peeps through.
With the land we created a large vegetable garden and orchard – they just seemed to expand of their own accord, the kids grew from small children into large and hungry teens and the ability to work from home suited Hubby the Un-Gardener to the ground. For me I found a love of writing and its compatibility with gardening set me on a career path I never dreamed I would have. In the space of ten years I went from a home gardener entering a garden blogging competition to an author of three gardening books, a writer for many magazines, newspapers and websites and brand ambassador for two prestigious garden supply companies in New Zealand. Life was good. The only thing missing was the sea views Hubby the Un-Gardener longed for, but there were dolphin tiles in the bathroom so close enough (although we did renovate later and removed them).
After a decade there Hubby the Un-Gardener reminded me of a promise we’d made when we moved in – this wasn’t supposed to be our forever home and he’d found the perfect piece of land, that just so happened to be beside the sea. So, we up sticks and moved again and as dramatic as the move from the city to the country was, this was more adventurous….
We moved to 10 acres, right on the coast, and relocated a house, by having it cut in half and bought 200km across the country to become our forever home. We spent 100 days in a caravan with 2 teenage boys while we did this. Then once the house settled into its spot on the land, I set about recreating my new garden beside the sea. The old garden in the drained swamp had its challenges which I managed to master, but the new garden beside the ocean comes with a whole different set of challenges, and so now I find myself a gardener beside the sea, with a whole lot more to learn. They say a good gardener never stops learning…
Gardening is now so much a part of my life and I love being able to grow delicious things for my family to eat – from seed. You could say I’m obsessed. If you run into me on the street and ask how I am, I’ll tell you “Oh not good – I’ve got blight.” And don’t get me started on the weather!
It is my aim in life to encourage other people to find this same joy in gardening that I have, although hopefully your plot of land is far less challenging than mine, but with all my struggles, if I can put a seed in the ground and get something to eat as a result, then so can you. If just one person picks up a spade and begins their own gardening journey because of something I said or wrote, then I’d call that a success.
Come again soon – I have come a long way since I naively first put a spade in the dirt and there is still a long and exciting journey ahead.
Sarah the Gardener : o)