Róisín Ingle on ... sowing the seeds

A book landed on my desk with a soft little moan recently. It's called The Wild Oats Project and the subtitle is "One woman's midlife quest for passion at any cost". Robin Rinaldi, a "professional, educated, attractive" American decided at 44 to spend a year exploring everything she'd ever wondered about sex. Fair play to her, I thought. Also: God bless her energy.

Monogamous and married for her entire adult life, when her husband decided he wanted a vasectomy ending Rinaldi’s dream of parenthood, she took what might be considered drastic action. If she couldn’t have motherhood, she decided she’d have passion. For this year-long sexperiment she spent three months living on a commune learning something called orgasmic meditation, became a member of a neo-tantra group and took on 12 new lovers. Never mind the book, I needed a lie down just after reading the press release.

Sowing wild oats when you are married, even if your partner agrees, sounds like a lot of work. As it happens I’ve been getting down and dirty domestically in a different way. Sowing wild flowers in our “garden”, by which I mean our scrap of a yard.

A few things happened to prompt this rather conventional sowing of seeds. The first thing was that two friends of mine went to see a film written and directed by Vivienne de Courcy. The first one came back saying that while it was beautifully shot, the acting and the plot left a little to be desired.


The second one said it was "gorgeous . . . you should see it. I really think you'd like it." I instantly forgot all about the film. I am not in a grown-up movie-going time of my life. The last film I saw was Paddington. (Five stars. Loved it.) The one before that was Maleficent. (Five stars. Loved it.) I am dying to see Cinderella. I expect the review will be identical.

Then out of the blue I was invited to a screening of this very same film on a sun-speckled weekday morning. It was in the Lighthouse Cinema in Smithfield, which has to be one of the most beautiful cinemas in the land. The film is called Dare to be Wild and it's based on the story of an Irish woman called Mary Reynolds who won a gold medal for her garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2002. I must have been living under a rockery, but before this I'd never heard of Mary Reynolds. I sat into the deep, comfortable seats and with no expectations watched the film. By the end I was crying tears that seemed to come from some, as yet, unfurrowed part of me.

All you really need to know about this film, apart from the fact that the two leads in this romantic adventure are almost ridiculously good-looking, is the movie's message: we need to cultivate more wildness in our little patches of earth from the deserts of Ethiopia to the back yards of the North Strand. We need to protect the wild places that remain and recreate more wild places where we can. We need to cultivate more habitats for the bees and the birds and the butterflies to come back to.

Call me simplistic (it wouldn’t be the first time) but the film is an irresistible love letter to nature, to nurture, to wildness. I could poke holes in parts of it, but I don’t want to. It inspired me and moved me to unexpected tears. I came home with an urge to sow things. Wild things. (Not oats.)

Another thing that happened was that I went foraging in the grounds of Roundwood House, Co Laois with a woman called Wild Food Mary and discovered a love for three cornered leeks. And then I was asked to take part in the new GroMór campaign. A group of garden centres around the country have come together to encourage the likes of me to get growing stuff, offering practical advice on how to make the most of whatever space you have.There was a big bag of wildflower seeds in the kit so I got the children involved, sowed the seeds, raked the ground and watered it.

Now we are waiting for the wildness to erupt and for the bees and the butterflies to get word that this part of Dublin 3 is now a tiny bit more habitable than it used to be.

The press release for The Wild Oats Project says Robin Rinaldi lives in San Francisco and that she is available for interview. I wish her the best of luck with everything but I think I'll call Mary Reynolds instead. See gromor.ie