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We have just had our first hard frost so the dahlias are black and tattered but not yet unearthed and garaged. Brown stems abound, where the autumn clear-up is still to be finished. The lawns have had their last cut for the year, thus the edges are tatty, the clover is spreading like a virulent rash and the overall moss motif is glowing bright green in the occasional wan seasonal sunshine. The whole sward is peppered with casts resembling a terminal case of acne but this is the one bit that I’m not wittering about, since worms are my friends. The vegetable patch appears to have suffered a nuclear air burst and the fruit trellis lies where the storm winds left it reclining. I walk around every day, indulging in a sort of Zen horticulture of the mind. I’m daydreaming about March which will see the Dicentra blooming and July, when the Lilies should be going full belt. A few flowers are currently performing within a miniscule distance of the glutinous soil. To view them, you would have to lie on the soggy lawn on your belly. A magnifying glass would be a sound investment. My tiny patch of heaven is positively bare arsed. It makes me think of the job where I ripped my jeans when trimming an exceptionally butch hawthorn hedge. My client glanced at the acres of exposed bare thigh and suggested using the space for advertising an expert gardener for hire. I would add “enquire within.” Look into your heart; it won’t always be so threadbare, you know that everything will improve.
Dahlia destruction

Dahlia destruction

It’s been my lifetime ambition, well my goal for the last thirty years, to have a garden good enough for the Royal Horticultural Society’s yellow book. To this end, I have donated hundreds of plastic plant pots to the local C in C, by way of a gentle bribe in advance of my application. The containers are used for plants on sale to assist a good cause and if I don’t keep so many, I can get in through my potting shed door without having first to grease my carcass. I am also able to turn on the spot and if so moved, swing a cat. Should they decline to accept my membership in, let’s face it, an exclusive club, I think that I am big enough to keep giving them free flower pots.
Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica

The Commander and his wife maintain one of the loveliest gardens that I have ever seen. Their use of colour and texture is second to none. They grow rare specimens that I have only seen in books and the more usual examples are heavy with blossom and subtly staked. Both partners ooze expertise, capability and calm. Their plant shop is to die for, certainly worth maiming other customers in pursuit of something singular. Mrs. C. is an excellent plants woman and bakes perfect cakes for sale on open days which are nonpareil. Attila eats far more than is good for him but his refreshment break serves to hide my raids on the bank account and my indiscretions in the hunt for hardy perennials.
Iris foetidissima (gladwyn iris) seed pods

Iris foetidissima (gladwyn iris) seed pods

This day has been the coldest, darkest, wettest and most miserable of the year. Friends, the cake boss came to my house this afternoon to drink tea, nibble biscuits and look at my humble plot with an eye on the future. Cross your fingers for me, please.

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