If my garden could speak, a month or two ago it would have been saying 'You've hardly glanced at me all winter - no bulbs planted, no Autumn seeds sown, no clearing. no mulching. Look at the state of me. CALL YOURSELF A GARDENER?' It would have been justified. I think this may be the third year in a row that I've written a guilt-ridden blogpost about my fairweather gardening. When Spring arrives and the temperature rises a little, I venture out there, assess the innumerable tasks to be done and the extent of the crispy tangle, and often scarper for a week or two more - back into the house - where the tea is.
My wild and woollyish approach to gardening has many upsides: cow parsley in my patio, drifts of self-seeded pink poppies like so many ballerinas, stands of teasels that send bees into a frenzy and evening primrose plants appearing as though from nowhere every July. They're like gorgeous yellow tannoys. Where do they come from? Perhaps the seed is stuck to a bird's foot.
The downside is that it leaves a terrible crispy, stalky mess at the end of the year. After Christmas I justify my continued neglect by telling myself that the birds need the seedheads. It's actually true. Look, here's a picture of some goldfinches that I took through the kitchen window in January. I think they're eating dried lavender flowers.
By April I know I must face the garden music. By April there are caterpillars- the birds no longer need my old dry seedy stalks. Sometimes I gird my loins by nipping to the garden centre for new gloves. At this time of year I buy floral ones. They make the mammoth task ahead slightly cheerier and help to soften the burn of horticultural contrition as I clear last September's dessicated fennel. It's like buying a new Duran Duran pencil case to help make the Lower Five calculus seem less daunting.
Last weekend my Mum and Dad arrived, armed with trowels, handforks and a potted marguerite. My Dad valiantly tackled the ground elder. For any non-gardeners this is like saying that he tried to untangle Sleeping Beauty's gaff from the bramble stalks. I have rude words for ground elder and the way in which it strangles my knautias. I wont share them here.
Dad, resting after the trauma of the ground elder
My Mum and I hacked at bindweed, administered compost, and planted out roses. All the while I imagined my garden grumbling:
Garden: 'Where were you in February, eh? EH?'
Me: 'Um, here, have some rotted horse muck.'
Garden: 'Don't try to bribe me, look at those nettles.'
Me 'Have these brodeia bulbs, a scabious, a cut flower patch and a tiny willow fence while I'm at it.'
Smallish meadowy cut flower patch sown with Higgledy Garden seeds and edged with willow
Garden, pouting: 'Whatevers.'
Me: 'Purple podded peas from Celia! An exquisite willow version of the gherkin from Val! A new lavender! MARIGOLDS.'
Garden: 'Pfff. Alright, you're forgiven.'
I think it may still be a bit narky but I'm showing willing with the hose. Meanwhile I'm sorted for free posies.
I'm linking up with the stupendous 'How Does Your Garden Grow?' over at Mammasaurus' house.