If you keep a weather eye on what is happening in the world of gardening shows there is a tendency towards unfettered rewilding, which reached its nadir in some remarkably derelict gardens at Chelsea.
Rewilding in the larger world is a good thing. Owners of large tracts of land that let some of their acreage return to nature have my admiration for a bold move requiring plenty of nerve. The reward in terms of the strength of returning species benefits us all, and is welcomed particularly by those of us who remember the start of the worry in the 1960s, when we’d just got over never having had it so good and suddenly realised ‘it’ was a lot of concrete.
In little domestic gardens now I am unimpressed by endless anything, I like a bit of variety and I like it organised. I think this may have its origins in the gardening lack of abilities of my adoptive parents. My father frequently expressed his belief that what most gardens needed was a good top dressing of concrete. My mother, who had good legs, would stand posed in the front garden, in her hotpants with a tray of purchased plants, until someone passed by to admire her. As we lived in a cul de sac there was often a long wait. I remember an occasion when my parents visited when I was gardening. ‘Look!’ exclaimed my mother, ‘she has her hands actually in the soil. Eugh!’
Because of my health problems over the last few years, especially last summer, the occasions when I have had my hands in the soil have not been many. Feeling much improved this late spring I got started on the garden with a will. At first I did my workout in the morning and gardened in the afternoon. Then I realised gardening is a workout, and, starting earlier, achieved much more.
I have a lot of hanging baskets. Some are strawberries, some will be tomatoes but I was puzzled by the number that seemed to be just soil. The OH, left to his own devices in the garden is Agent Orange, he has a preference for Just Soil and will fling anything greenish bin wards with enthusiasm. However, he has never taken an interest in hanging baskets, other than to be wary of any at head height. So I knew the soil filled baskets were not of his creation.
I woke in the night with the answer. They had been the begonias! Every year for a long time I added to my stocks and every autumn I lifted all the corms, stored them in the garage and started them off again in the spring. Last autumn, however, I was managing getting up, going to bed shortly thereafter and doing a small amount of eating in between and not much else. The poor begonias, left to their own devices, rotted off and then, when the frost got at them, turned back into compost. Poor things, there had been dozens of them, not one survived. I dug the remains into the front bed.
So there will be no begonias this year.
Instead I am doing a lot of ground work. Lifting and reseating edging and doing some major digging. As soon as we have some nice sunshine I will drag the little chair store out of the corner, evict the spiders and repaint it.
There’s a lot to do. I am happy to do it. I am anticipating a very organised summer. Plants will flower symmetrically.
I have already jet washed the drive, when we have more sun I will do the other paths and the steps.
Weeds will not be tolerated and the wisteria will be pruned to where I want it to be. Exactly.
There’s not going to be any fashionable dereliction round here.
Round here we like proper gardening.