Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Misery of Gardening

Posy of the week in a pretty little cup and saucer, courtesy of my mum
When I announced to my friends that we were about to buy a cottage (less than two years ago), they all wanted to know what sort of garden I planned there.  I cheerfully asserted, “Oh no particular kind of garden style, it will just be so good to have a bit of earth to scratch around in.  I will grow anything which is not a weed and which helps to fill up the space because nature abhors a vacuum.  It will be mainly cuttings, anything I can lay my hands on.”


Well, how times have changed!  On Saturday we had the most lovely weather and I was outside bothering the weeds.  After a time it occurred to me that it was unfortunate that the Dutch irises seemed to be mainly the pale anaemic looking washed out ones, whereas I would have much preferred the darker and more vibrant ones, and I was sure I had planted a lot more of those darker bulbs. 
Good robust shades, not like most of them
On the other hand, the polyanthus all seemed to be the most lurid and strident shades – lolly pink and acid yellow - when the softer “antique” ones much more attractive. 
Much too bright
Almost eye-wateringly lurid
So much softer and easier on the eye!
Then there was the vexed question of the bulbs which refused to flower in symphony but all wanted their own time to star and consequently came out consecutively rather than all together. 

It seems that when we garden want to impose our will on our piece of earth according to our idea of a blossoming Eden.  We never are happy with what we have but always feel it could be improved on.  I suppose if that wasn’t the case people wouldn’t bother with gardening at all; we want to make order out of chaos and we all have our own definite ideas of what is pleasing to see. 

But what was the breeder of this daffodil thinking?  To me this looks as if it has been afflicted with some odd viral disease, the plainer and more simple “basic” daffodil is much more attractive.  But it  shows that we all have our own ideas of beauty and who is to say one thing is better than another?

The "new improved" version for those who want something "a bit different""

The common or garden variety, maybe a bit boring but at least it looks like a daffodil

I will be dividing the “nice” polyanthus and digging out the lurid ones, of that you can be sure.  Perhaps what I need to do is tie little bits of wool around the ones which are “good” so I know which ones to split up and divide later on in the year, and which ones to unceremoniously heave onto the compost heap.  Also with the Dutch irises and daffodils.  Gardening definitely isn’t the simple straightforward pastime it first seems, but what a great challenge and no matter how small our own little patch the garden is never complete.  I often look at the tempting sitting areas, garden benches and so on we scatter around our gardens and wonder why we bother – who has time for sitting down when there is so much to be done and so many plants to look after?  Not to mention the weeds, don’t get me started on them!


More lilies are emerging and I can take comfort in picturing what a flowery bower there will be when they all bloom (if they do bloom at the same time that is, and the slugs don't decimate them first).   The first of the blossom is on the venerable old plum tree and Mr Shoestring is looking at it thinking he should have given it a heavier pruning last season – it seems as if I am not alone in my desire to bend nature to my will!  The strawberries are already flowering too, let's hope the birds spare us a few when they ripen.
Time for a bit of spring cleaning and washing up the linens, always an agreeable job on a lovely spring morning.