A recent post by CJ on Above the River (a lovely blog do pop over and visit) started me thinking about gardening and how sometimes I love it and sometimes I feel overwhelmed by it all and can quite see the appeal of a flat with a balcony and a few pots of geraniums! When we lived in France one of the things we thought we'd like was the huge garden which was mostly grass and lots and lots of trees and shrubs - a blank canvas we thought. We soon discovered that retirement when suddenly there are fewer hours in each day or so it seems is not the time to take on such a mamoth task and unlike when we were younger and took on an allotment covered all over with blackberry bushes taller than we were we just didn't have the physical strength nor the energy and motivation we had back then and we were too busy trying to keep on top of it all to enjoying having so much space . So one thing we wanted when we moved back to England was a smaller garden! Be careful what you wish for eh?
We love the fact that our garden here is bordered by a wood both for privacy and peace - I love opening the back door early in the morning and smelling the fresh green smell and hearing the birds busy singing in the trees. No need here to plant things to attract wildlife to our garden it's all there on the other side of the fence and the wildlife visits our garden too of course. There are badgers, squirrels, birds of every kind including owls at night and woodpeckers of the green and black varieties along with jays, robins, blackbirds thrushes and so on. There are bats to be seen on summer evenings and occasionally a frog in the garden too as well as all the insect life and creatures busy beneath the soil. Now obviously having all that woodland just the other side of the fence means that it is impossible to keep that border neatly weeded (let's face it we find it impossible to keep any of the garden neatly weeded!) as we now of course have even less energy than we did in France so it is just as well that we are not keen on the sort of garden that has striped lawns with borders neatly clipped and tidy rows of flowers sitting in shaped beds. I have come to the conclusion that working with Nature rather than trying to force our ideas upon it is the way to go and so our garden is untidy and rather unruly but if we are happy with it like this does it matter? We do only what is necessary to keep it from turning into a complete wilderness such as cutting the grass (we never "mow the lawn" since ours isn't lawn but a daisy strewn grass/moss/weed patch) cut the hedge, pull a few weeds and trim here and there now and again. Then we sit and admire our handiwork over a cup of tea on the bench!
When I said working "with Nature" here is an example of what I meant. Our garden in France had some lovely tall foxgloves and I brought some seeds with me when we moved. I thought that they might look good in the woodland border - but they had other ideas and decided they didn't want to compete with all that other stuff so seeded themselves on the pebbled area where I have my rotary washing line. So now I have rigged up a heavy stone and a piece of rope tied to the arm of the line to prevent it rotating as anything longer than undies or socks is liable to decapitate the foxgloves!
We have had a garden for over 40 years and yet I feel I know no more about proper gardening now than I did before and never plan what I want and then buy the appropriate plants to fit my plan but rather shove plants in wherever there is a space or somewhere that I can actually get the trowel into the soil- it's all so hit and miss but I love the fact that our garden is planted with so many things which have a story such as these beautiful sweet peas which came to me originally as tiny wee plants carefully wrapped in damp tissue in a plastic carton posted from a friend in Surrey and which this year seem to have shinned up the netting at a rate of knots and have already given me these lovely blooms which have a divine perfume whilst her own are apparently still being coaxed up to the first rung of the netting! Maybe my style of gardening works after all.
These weeny strawberries do manage to survive in amongst the undergrowth along the woodland boundary and came originally from the same friend this time as a little matchbook of sticks each with a seed which you stuck in the ground and hoped would grow - this one the only one that did!
A little indoor gardening here - my salad leaves growing happily in an old ice cream carton - they'd never survive in the garden I've tried but the slugs and snails devour them. The red plant also reminds me of a friend - this time in France who gave me some of her plant and now I have 4 pots of them this is just one and in the original terracotta post and saucer she gave me and which also had a story behind how she came by it. Life and especially gardening life is full of stories.
I have been reading a most fascinating book - A Slow Passion - which I can really recommend. Do click on the link for a review of what it is all about.and do read the book if you get chance - you will never look at a snail in the same way again I can promise you! The book was informative, interesting and humourous and although the author doesn't come up with any real answer to why the snails kept eating her plants she does like me decide that perhaps all is how it should be and so the garden doesn't change but her attitude does. A really lovely book.
Many thanks for your kind comments on my purple hair - I might do it again some time but never fear the tattoo was only a joke!