Sunday, 27 April 2014

The joys of having a garden

 Some gardens are 'all year round' gardens, offering something of interest for twelve months of the year. Ours is more of a 'it has its moments' garden.... and this time of year is one of those moments.

For various reasons I can't physically garden any more, and have come to accept this now, though it was really hard at first as there was nothing I liked more than spending time in the garden, no matter where we were living. We have gone from huge corner plots in our first married  home, in East Yorkshire, to a tiny back garden in Middlesex, and now in Norfolk with a long and wide back garden, over a hundred feet long by fifty feet across. Now all I can do is potter, a bit of dead-heading, seed-sowing, and lots of supervising - and tea-making!

But the pleasure the garden gives me doesn't diminish in line with my ability to work in it, in fact it increases year on year. We never had a garden when I was a child growing up, it wasn't until I was in my teens and my parents bought their first bungalow in the mid-Sixties, that I lived with a garden. I don't know why they bought something with such a huge garden to be honest, since Dad was away three quarters of the time and Mum worked full time... and I was a teenage girl with no thoughts whatsoever of gardening, until I got a boyfriend who actually enjoyed it!

Now I can't imagine living without one.

We have two gravel gardens, one with green gravel and nothing but green plants, no flowers... this is an area with a seat tucked away in a cut out in the hedge, perfect for just sitting as you can see most of the garden from this spot and are completely private. The other area of gravel is nearer the house, and we are gradually planting it up, with heathers, heucheras, sage, rosemary, astilbe. I long to have a cut flower patch, but no matter how I try, and despite the size of the garden, I can't find a suitable spot, ie with lots of sun and sheltered from prevailing winds. You'd think there would be somewhere, but everywhere is taken, with shrubs, annuals, wildflowers, soft fruit and veg, biennials, perennials... and so on. The only spot I can find is where we have our little table and chairs, and this would involve lifting paving slabs, and creating a raised bed from scratch. Maybe next year. Meanwhile I enjoy the garden and its Spring offerings.

We are not very good planners - one reason why we don't have much of interest in the winter - so any colour combinations that strike me as particularly beautiful are usually purely accidental. Such as zingy lemon sherbet wallflowers grown from little seedlings we collected last year, alongside clumps of bluebells.... clouds of blue forget-me-nots alongside the strawberry crush pink of bergenia.... lime green euonymus besides deep blue ajuga... and the ajuga again with a paler blue bluebell...

There are times of the day when the garden is backlit by the sun, and this is one of my favourite times of year to see the garden in the evening, with the greens bright and fresh... the grasses like Stipa Gigantia look great backlit by autumn sun, when the flower/seed heads are brown. But for now the Stipa is just beginning to develop...

And I love this little laburnum, which I nurtured from a seedling of an earlier tree which got damaged in storms a few years ago and had to be taken down... there was also one at the front of the house when we bought it, but for some reason we had it removed. I have another seedling being looked after with a view to planting at the front in a year or so. For now, this little one - well it's about eight foot high - gives me pleasure both on a grey day as we had yesterday, with mist and rain, and again on a sunny day today, with the backdrop of blue sky.

One of the many joys of having a garden is having flowers, greenery, seedheads to cut and bring into the house. I am not a lover of fancy bouquets of flowers, of stiff and formal arrangements. I have a collection of vases, jugs and jam jars... aren't Bon Maman jars useful?! I have used one here for this little posy gathered yesterday....

It's amazing how many different varieties can be crammed into a jar.... the lemon yellow wallflower, white brachychome, white comfrey, purple honesty, bluebells, ajuga, two different small tulips, sage, heather, lily of the valley, lime green euonymus.... and the bonus of some lovely smells too.

So this is how my garden grows.... not always as beautiful and colourful as it is at the moment, but all the more reason to spend time appreciating it whilst it lasts.