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I needed to know if these Nemesias were better than those on sale at the other nursery, fifteen miles in the opposite direction. Attila was bored with constant mental comparisons which were really outside his area of expertise. I’ve dragged him around the locality, looking for tender annuals for containers and hanging baskets. I know that one vendor will have perfect Petunias and another will offer faultless Osteospermums. The success of my summer courtyard display hinges upon making crucial decisions now but after several days of shopping, my spouse’s patience was at a dangerously low ebb.
Net's rose, possibly “Bleu Magenta”
Net’s rose, possibly “Bleu Magenta”

The lawn was a different matter. He found the scarifier at the back of the shed and applied it with a will, so that what was lushly green with clover is now balding badly. I used a water-in weed ‘n’ feed and did that job myself to avoid recriminations, should something precious be killed while the dandelions thrive. I donned a ski headband whilst carrying out the operation. That’s a deeply unflattering garment; I caught sight of myself in a mirror and realised that I looked like a startled angora hamster caught in a wind tunnel. He sprinkled lawn green and grass seed, having read and ignored the instructions. The hose was dragged to the front, connected to a curly extension. Attila cleared off on some arcane masculine pursuit, leaving me with directions to shift the sprinkler on a strict half hour schedule. The strange plastic spiral was designed to catch on the brick edging during the move, giving me a cold shower every twenty seconds. I managed to follow his commands whilst involuntarily entering the wet t-shirt competition and the saintly grip on my temper contest.
Allium schubertii (ornamental onion)
Allium schubertii (ornamental onion)

This is the moment when the garden has done the spring thing. Everything seems to be holding a quivering breath, drawing its skirts about for summer. Decisions have to be made regarding the leaves of daffodils and tulips, which are flopping about the borders like actresses in a melodrama. Are they dead enough to remove yet, or could they slurp up another week’s sunshine, to big up next year’s blooms? The hardy perennials are making their bid for the space. Thugs like Phlomis russeliana (Turkish sage) and Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae (Mrs. Robb’s bonnet) require harsh discipline to keep them in some order. I am a tough tyrant and tear out the unruly with no mercy. My partner is a softy, who would leave more wambly specimens to be subsumed by the brutes.
Front garden annuals
Front garden annuals

Nematodes have been applied for biological control, where the slugs are carving impertinent paths through that which is most prized. The good critters are active in the soil where snails don’t congregate, so the latter are left largely untouched. I have dosed the Auriculas with vine weevil drench; the sudden loss of perk to their leaves indicates the presence of the fat, greasy white grubs which do all the damage. I use systemic Provado, a horrible yellow opaque liquid that reminds me of Granny’s indigestion cure which had the same viscous quality, but pink. The blue tits are nesting in the trees and under next door’s roof. The season is responding to the sunshine with the twitter of the birds, the tootle of an ice cream van and the gentle, heartfelt groan of the unaccustomed gardener.

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