Thursday, 22 May 2014

Digging for forgiveness

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
. I'm in my pyjamas.

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.

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?


Gardensaurus said...

Oh my what colour and beauty in your garden! I love the way you write, it must aid creativity looking out of the window at that. Family rock - I do hope you dished out the Pimms ;)
Thanks ever so much for joining in, love a good garden nose.


Rachel said...

Well, whatever you are doing seems to be working, because it looks good!

driftwood said...

I love how your garden answers back. like a teenager.

Karen said...

I do like wild gardens but I know they have to be kept under control which I always fail to do with ours. Love your photo's and I do exactly the same with pretty new gloves each spring.

saffa said...

Emma your garden is beautiful :) I love that it is a bit wild, so pretty, have a lovely bank holiday! safxxx

Katie Bedlow said...

It will always forgive you ;) Last week I had to also accept that the so called 'wildflower' part of the garden was nothing but weeds and nettles, so spent a very hot day cutting and digging and finally had room for my new sunflowers, quite satisfying! Those willow structures all look beautiful, hope you have some sun to enjoy siting out there this bank holiday! :)


Country Rabbit said...

such a beautiful garden, i love your silver pebble pieces too ;)

Frances said...

Emma, looks to me as if you and your garden communicate very well. Of course, the garden could take your every waking moment...however, we regular visitors know that you have many other interests clamoring for your attention, too.

And...from these photographs, I'd say your garden looks beautiful at the end of May. I know you will be enjoying it more and more this summer.


Thimbleanna said...

Wow Emma! Your garden is just BEAUTIFUL!!!

Anonymous said...

So beautiful - I'm a fair weather gardener and only realised how long my grass was when my 5 year old waded through it and i lost a cat! Think i know how I'll be spending my bank holiday weekend you're an inspiration

acornmoon said...

A bit of neglect is no bad thing, neglect allows nettles and wild flowers to thrive and the bees will thank you for that.

The Coffee Lady said...

Christ, you do moan about nothing. It's fecking lovely. I would NEVER ON THIS EARTH take a long-shot of my garden.

Gina said...

Your garden always looks so beautiful. I don't think I'd dare show close up shots of my neglected space!

Annie @ knitsofacto said...

I think your garden is more forgiving than you're giving it credit for ... last time I neglected mine it let a plague of locusts in (okay, I might be exaggerating, but there were certainly *a lot* of hungry caterpillars.

It's all looking deliciously wildish Emma ... enjoy :)

CJ said...

You've been working hard Emma, your garden will certainly love you again now. Those seedlings are looking good, I'll look forward to seeing them flowering. CJ xx

Toffeeapple said...

I have neglected mine as well, for the past two years. In January, I had someone come and hack back all the perennials and now they are rewarding me with abundance. My Evening Primroses have increased by about 90% too, I was amazed.

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