This isn’t a big garden but the weed stocks seem inexhaustible. The main event of ground elder, dock and nettles that we inherited are likely to be nominated for the National Collection and the seasoning of cranesbill, chickweed and shepherd’s purse are rambunctious to the point of rudeness. I can cope with most of it with assistance from Attila and copious supplies of strong tea. Twenty four hours of unbroken recuperation usually proves beneficial, particularly if it involves quality control inspection of several glasses of chilled dry wine. I struggle to stay optimistic about the grass which eschews the blasted lawn and is growing most vigorously in the sodding flower beds. My hands are reduced to crippled claws after a Good Friday spent dragging it out by the roots. This time alcohol hasn’t helped and my usual prop of wall to wall television horticulture has left me jaded and cynical. My spine feels as if it has been taken out and put back in. I can’t walk, sit or stand. Most especially I cannot bend; please don’t ask it of me, or you are likely to be offended by my honest, heartfelt and probably abusive response.
Why do I do this to myself? Why do you? My neighbours occasionally make a complimentary remark over the wall but this tends to be overshadowed by the certain knowledge that bone meal, chicken pellets and horse manure far outweigh the perfume of roses in the smelly stakes. I can tell that it pongs by the way that they wrinkle their noses and pass the time of day at the trot. I would like to say that I spend any and every sunny day on my knees, arse upwards amongst the perennials for pleasure. I’m lying to myself and you; the gardening addiction is now serious and I am unable to saunter around without seeing pruning that needs doing, stems that call for support or weeds that require eradication. I have a radar for cat shit that has been left perched and visible, clearly crafted for my attention. I fear that I’m developing an unhealthy poop fixation. If I don’t exert a little self discipline, I start thinking about seedlings, plantings and watering as I imagine a Catholic looks forward to a heavy sin on their soul, with confession looming on Sunday.
Right, let’s take control. I used to get uppity about little old lady gardening, where each plant must be surrounded by a clear foot of unblemished turned soil. Shrubs had to be sheared to buggery, leaving a bony batch of trunks as evidence of a good gardener’s passage. I was taught that specimens should snuggle together, thus crowding out the undesirables. The young Turks have a more relaxed attitude to the whole business and spend time researching garden loungers, alfresco food and the best recipe for a martini. Who sounds as if they’re having more fun?
I’m going to the DIY store right now, for some retail therapy. I fancy a teak cabin chair for class, a woven reed seat for chic or a bath towel spread on the turf to hide the bald bits for pragmatism and affordability. I don’t care if the clouds break or that I can hear the dandelions growing; I’m off to enjoy the garden.