I confess that I am not a passionate gardener. I have a strong aesthetic appreciation of a beautiful garden, enjoy lovely plants and blooms, and I admire those who put so much hard work into their plots, but personally, I lack the passion (and patience) my mother displays. Now, of course, she isn’t physically able to tend her garden as she has always done in the past.
Thus it has hurt me in the last few weeks to see this little garden, which has always given my mother so much pleasure, becoming overgrown with weeds and the wrong sort of grass in the wrong place. With downpour upon downpour, shower upon shower, everything has been soaked in the monsoon-like conditions we have enjoyed so far this summer and responded with rapid growth. My mother loves roses, and though the garden is small she has several strong rose bushes, which have been here for many years and bloom faithfully for her every summer.
Although the rain has brought the plants on, it has also spoilt many blooms, so when this morning dawned bright and dry and sunny, I went out with the secateurs to try to deadhead as many of the roses as possible.
They weren’t pruned properly last year, so have grown very tall, making it hard to reach the tops, and the oldest one of all, an Albéric Barbier planted sixty years ago, has gone completely mad with delusions of grandeur and occupies the full width of the plot at the bottom of the garden. I had to withdraw defeated from him, but in spite of the dead flowers there are still plenty of fresh creamy white ones making a fine display.
Queen Elizabeth is also putting on a brave face in this her Diamond Jubilee year, and so are her companions whose names I don’t know except for the Peace rose .
As I said, I lack the passion of a true gardener, but I donned my gloves and set to in an attack on the worst of the weeds, and a short hour later the difference was obvious. The sun was still shining, so out came the Flymo and in ten minutes the lawn looked like a lawn again.
This was now the obvious setting for a garden tea-party when my valiant godmother Maud announced her impending visit – she’s walking on two sticks, but steadily so, and managed the bus with no ill effects (some of the local bus drivers seem to have F1 ambitions, and especially enjoy slamming on the brakes to make as many passengers as possible shoot forward down the aisle. Whether this is to speed up their departure or simply a sadistic streak in the drivers is a moot point, but rising from your seat before the bus stops is risky to life and limb.)
Maud arrived to sunshine but alas, the moment the tea was made, the sky clouded over and the sun vanished so we had to stay indoors; but at least we had a pretty garden to look at. And Maud is truly indomitable: we must get a rose named for her!