6 Years Sober and Rewilding

Reflections on consciousness, newts, gardening and sobriety

Chelsey Flood
7 min readApr 27, 2022


Author illustration

Last week I was six years sober, and I didn’t even write about it. Yet. Because I can’t stop gardening.

Lately, I’ve been spending every spare moment in the garden. Is this procrastination? I’m on the second draft of my third novel, after all, and have hopes of finishing it this year. And yet, every day, I find my head full of questions about plants and biodiversity.

Will cucumber grow with corn or does it prefer sunflowers? How do you take cuttings from verbena bonariensis? Buddleia?

So far I have made raised beds and broadcast wildflower seeds, and planted a native mixed hedge. I dream of having a table at the edge of the garden with an honesty box and all of the extra plants I’ve raised in the process of making our garden. A greenhouse and potting benches, full of the things I don’t have room for now (my partner is already bemused by the number of seedlings on our sunny windowsills).

I love writing, but dreaming up novels feels so much more arduous than dreaming up veg gardens and wildlife habitat. Instead of working out the secret motivations of a third-tier character (someone please tell me, what does Giles want?) I find myself reading up about companion planting.

It turns out that cucumber DOES like to be planted with corn! How wonderful is that? They help each other along, like well-chosen life partners. The corn offers structure and shade to the cucumber, which fends off certain pests for the corn.

💜 💜 💜 💜 💜

And did you know that if you create a small area for water to pool on your garden, nature will colonise it with plants herself? You don’t have to go to the garden centre, just wait. How flipping cool is that?

It was a hard winter (by winter, I mean the majority of 2021) after a hard winter (at least half of 2020) but this spring I am hopeful, and plants have a lot to do with it. I’ve planted strawberries, cucumbers, asparagus, cosmos, delphinium, tomatoes, rocket, lettuce, spinach, sunflowers, corn and nasturtium. If none of my other dreams blossom into reality, I know that some of these will. The world is in chaos, but my garden is unbelievably beautiful.