Inspired by the sunshine yesterday – officially the hottest day ever on record in the UK – I have once again made a weak attack on the garden. I’m becoming quite cunning at creating the illusion of a well-tended little yard, by letting whatever wants to spread rampant tentacles get on with what it’s good at. This minimises weeding, as the ground is almost completely covered by something with flowers on.
The Olympic champion, befitting its status as the oldest plant in the plot, is the rambling rose Albéric Barbier, which I remember my father planting in the early 1950’s. He erected a rustic style trellis for it to climb over, and I recall the excitement when it actually did begin to cover parts of the bare wooden rods.
Now, it is claiming parts that other plants (or humans) can’t reach and laying a carpet on the roof of the garage. I deadheaded what was accessible to me without endangering life or limb (it has some very vicious thorns to defend itself) so there’s room for the budding Japanese anemones and hydrangeas to bloom underneath it in the coming weeks but despite the huge black bags filled with pruning debris, the overall impression is not very different.
I announced to my mother “I’ve filled this plastic bag” and being without her hearing aids she understood something about flying the flag, so when she came out to inspect the results of my hour’s labour, she was looking for something that wasn’t there. Our surreal conversation in the garden was carried on at several decibels louder than usual, and I could hear the occasional snort of stifled laughter from the teenagers in the garden next door, hidden behind the jasmine-laden fence. Live entertainment, free of charge!
This charming and very floribund creeper was condemned as a weed by one of my horticultural mentors, but I granted it a reprieve as it was spreading very nicely and choking everything else in its path. It has rewarded me by its abundance of little blue stars, which are giving the azalea a new lease of life and rapidly ascending the trellis disdained by the honeysuckle, which has independent rightist tendencies.
Thankfully, the pots of pansies and petunias – plus one or two other things I wasn’t sure of, but that seem to be snapdragons – flanking the front door are thriving in the summery weather, and our local Titchmarsh pops over every now and then to deadhead them. I can’t always distinguish between buds and deadheads, so am glad of his expertise. I just have to remember to drench them every morning and evening, for which they appear very grateful.
My biceps muscles are beginning to be perceptible through the flab (can’t say the same of my triceps, which are definitely batwings nowadays) from carrying the full watering can hither and thither.
The tomato plant is flowering and looks healthy. My beanstalks are starting to rival Jack’s, and yes, there are indeed sweet peas growing in between, which must have self-seeded last year.
Remembering the minor trauma of losing her front garden to a paved forecourt a couple of years ago, my mother commented on what a good idea it was after all: we still have a pretty little flowerbed with the rocks she is so nostalgic about, and visitors are very happy to have somewhere to park off-road.
Here comes the ice-cream man, so I’m going to get my reward. I shall sit in the garden and enjoy my ninety-nine – unless that big black cloud drifting over means thunderstorms … oh what a downpour! This evening, at least, I shan’t have to lug the heavy watering can around.