The pictures you see on this post are ALL FROM MY GARDEN. But before you get the wrong idea about my horticultural skills I should perhaps admit they have been planted by my brother.
Let’s not beat about the bush, I am never going to be a gardener. It was hard to admit as I come from a family jam-packed to the greenhouse rafters with growers whose green fingers can produce a productive vegetable plot, a manicured lawn and an extravaganza of flowers, without seemingly breaking sweat.
But the gardening gene passed me by. And as I surveyed the patch of weeds, the dozens of pots whose plants had withered and died on the vine and the tangle of brambles which like stubborn squatters refused to leave no matter how much I threatened them or cut off their water, I finally realised the garden had gone to pot - and I don't mean it was full of medicinal plants.
The trouble is, my heart just isn’t in it. I love the planning - the reading of books, surfing the net and making lists. The theory is fine, it’s the practice I have trouble with. While others love being out in the open air producing order out of chaos and beauty out of ugliness, I just find it a long, hard slog.
I dig up weeds and they return. I plant seedlings and the slugs get them. I sweep up leaves and after one puff of wind the garden is covered again. I prune shrubs, turn around and they have regrown - stronger and higher than before. My perennials act like annuals, and my annuals take one look at my garden and decide to give up the ghost. I forget to water and neglect the dead-heading.
I mentioned all this to my brother who, newly-retired, offered to come and tame my pitiful plot. Wonderful though this is, having relatives helping you out does have its pitfalls. For a start he’s family so is not restrained by the bounds of politeness.
The first week he brought his heavy duty strimmer and his loppers. He took one look at the overgrown shrubs at the bottom of my garden, sighed, and said: “Next week I’ll bring my chainsaw.” He wasn’t joking.
And I have found a bunch of things that make my brother roll his eyes.
Him: Why is the shed door propped open? It’s really damp in there.
Me: A stray cat comes into my garden sometimes and I don’t like to think of him out in the rain.
Him: You do know some of these seeds are five years out of date?
Me: I keep forgetting where I’ve put them and then buy new ones.
Him: (Shaking his head) So many seeds and so few flowers.
Him: Why have you got so many broken plant pots?
Me: Don’t people break them up, or something, and put them in the bottom of other pots?
Him: Mutters something about having enough to fill all the pots in a garden centre.
Him: Why have you got so many pots with dead plants?
Me: I keep thinking that with a shower or two of rain they might come back to life again.
Him: (Listening to me chattering away indoors). Are you talking to me?
Me: No, the cat.
Him: She probably knows as much about gardening as you do.
And then there are the questions to which I have no answer.
‘Are your worms still alive?’ he asked. I was shocked by this question but then I realised he was talking about my wormery. To be honest I had no idea as I just open the lid and chuck in my vegetable peelings. But I said, in a triumph of hope over experience, of course they are! He lifted the lid, poked around a bit and said: ‘Good God, yes they are!’ He’s looking forward to testing out the liquid feed.
I feel ridiculously proud. Liquid feed, huh? Who’d-a thought.
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