Possibly it’s the influence of the Chelsea Flower Show, or simply the effect of the sun shining, but suddenly the garden is screaming for attention like a baby with a full nappy. It’s only a small garden, but it’s quite capable of a tantrum and I can only ignore it for a limited period.
As it’s almost 80 years since it was first dug over, manured and planted, perhaps a comparison with a grumpy old person would be more apt: an elderly lady wanting her hair done, or an old man in need of a shave, both unable to bath or shower on their own and dependent on a carer, resenting the indignity.
I’ve said it before: I am not a true gardener. If I were, I’d have dug out all the weeds, fertilised the soil, carefully arranged the planting and ensured the lawn was flat and smooth as a billiard table. I do like to see a lovely garden and I appreciate the effort and hard work that goes into keeping it looking perfect, but no – I’m not willing to break my back and my fingernails to get the dahlias and gladioli to perform miracles.
I’ve washed the windows of our Hobbit House (my Dad’s garage, sunken half into the ground). The paintwork is distressed – some might consider that shabby chic, along with the algae that I can’t manage to get off the stone my Grandad engraved. The verdure that passes for a lawn here, composed of various types of grass, moss, dandelions and anything else green, has been flymoed and raked, and that’s all it’s getting. One day last year – or perhaps the year before – I actually went smartly all round the edges with a spade and cut an even, straight edge that lasted all of two weeks.
There’s something lush growing very abundantly along one side, providing excellent ground cover and producing little starry blue flowers, so I welcomed that and encouraged it last year. This year, it’s taking over the whole bed and I have been told it’s chickweed, and not a garden plant at all. When the window-cleaner told me he had chickens. I offered him a large bagful, which seemed a good way of reducing it, but it seems to have taken that as a challenge. Next time, he can take a sackful.
We are currently in the transition phase from the calm blue serenity of lots of forget-me-nots and bluebells with a white azalea, to the gradual addition of shades of pink in fuchsias, geraniums and queenly roses. There are also a few early creamy roses brought out by the recent sunshine. It’s pretty and peaceful. If I compare these photos with those taken in previous years, when I worked like a plantation slave, it looks no worse. Gardening, like housework, is a thankless task in my eyes.
Should I battle the black spot and greenfly? Squash the snails? Pick off the caterpillars? Chase away the cats that seek refuge from the neighbours’ dogs? No, I’m quite happy sitting here listening to the blackbirds singing and watching my freckles emerge.