The postman has started stuffing plant porn through the letter box. The photographs are utterly salacious, flowers have been pimped indecently and the prose is almost illegal; they really ought to send them out in brown paper envelopes. I crouch on the couch, shivering with lust and mumbling with avarice, thumbing the bright pages until I have worn out the print and can barely see the reference numbers, were I to make an order. Attila bustles in to see what has occasioned the interesting moaning. “Oh God, not more plants. Deal with the ones you’ve got.”
Dinner plate Dahlia
The man has been complaining that I’ve stuffed the compost heap with pampas grass leaves which refuse to rot. My best results came from green waste crammed with pet pigeon guano, which is sadly no longer available. I’ve sent the problem neatly back to him, saying that the quivering mess of debris needs turning, to let air in to accelerate the process. A break in the discussion brings a knock at the door revealing an incredibly ancient bloke selling bags of rotted horse manure. He proffers a handful of juicy, poop laden bounty to display the quality on offer. Aha! The very thing to speed decomposition. Without consulting my spouse, I purchase ten bags of garden goodness. The gnarled gentleman dumps his cargo by the front door, being too feeble to cart it round to the back. Once he has departed and it’s too late to return the merchandise, I tell my husband that the green bins need attention and that I have a little surprise for him.
Caryopteris (bluebeard), Senecio cineraria (silver ragwort) & bee
We go out to the garden, me to reduce the height of the plant mountain, he to start turning the compost. Attila layers the putrefying vegetation with large quantities of dung, like a particularly unappetising lasagne. He brings me a vast bucket full of last year’s finished fertiliser to get the new residents off to a flying start. It’s beautiful brown gold which will beef up my poor sandy soil with nutrients, whilst also improving water retention. It’s full of worms, from tiny pink brandlings to huge beige monsters that wink at me and smile as I ladle them into the earth. Bulbs go in first, 20 cm (8 inches) deep or more, so that stems are strong. Narcissi, Alliums and Iris will push up through and between the herbaceous foliage, from spring onwards. Crocus sit more shallowly, placed in clumps in the bare bits between permanent residents. It’s too early for tulips; these need to be planted in November, when horticulture will be spiced by numb knees and the threat of frostbite.
Clerodendrum bungei (glory flower)
After a full day’s work, we stand back to gloat over our achievements. I admire the percolating green recycling from a safe distance. My husband seems unaffected by six hours of very heavy labour. I have found a place for every last pot full of perennial. I’m too tired to walk, eat or meander through a gardening catalogue. I’m even too shattered to sleep. I’m going to find myself a seat, well away from my partner’s odiferous efforts and watch the grass grow.