Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Green, green grass of home

Most who know me would agree I've never been naturally green fingered. When I moved into my house, the garden was full of mature shrubs that grew like billyo. Visitors would point and say things like "Your agapanthus looks good." Not a euphemism, it seems. I'd just shrug, deeming actual gardening for other people, with my activity limited to mowing and pruning and drinking wine in, all of which I carried out with vigour. I gave myself RSI last year after a five hour bout of trimming something climby - clematis, apparently.

But something has crept up on me. For the first time, I'm keen to learn and have been thinking about where to plant new things. I started a journal (!) and found myself watching - my sister nearly fainted when I told her - Gardener's World. (As I'm in full disclosure mode, I should report I also recorded it when I was out.)

Mum will be chuckling. Each Sunday afternoon she'd drag her teenager to the garden centre. I'd shuffle along kicking stones and shoulder sloping while she gave a running commentary. I wish I'd listened. When she was bed ridden, she was still ordering plants that never made it out of their pots. I inherited a newly bought camellia and small apple tree, and feel the huge burden of responsibility not to inadvertently kill them.

So my elderly friend and I went to a garden centre last week (with my own kids unimpressed at my observation on the circle of life) and while she pointed and offered advice, this time I listened, and quietly assessed what I like (magnolia, camellia, hydrangea and roses) and don't like (succulents, variegated leaves anything spiky). The following day she gave me two packets of sweet pea seeds that require soaking and putting into trays. Which blew my mind slightly. I mean, that's practically like producing a test tube baby.
 Anyway, I've begun pulling up dead stuff and digging over the border in readiness for the makeover. It's not without trauma. When a worm the size of my middle finger started crawling towards my glove, I screamed and did a version of a rain dance. "Is it a grass snake?" came a concerned voice over the fence.
My long suffering friends are being pumped for advice but as Frank said, "I'll do it my way." When I mused that I planned to throw grass seed onto a patch of sloping earth, another friend looked incredulous. "You've got to level it", he said. Hmm.... we'll see. Teletubbie bumps might fit in quite nicely.