Do You Know Your Garden?

Posted on August 23, 2011

When I moved to my house in late September 2009 (oh what a night….) it featured a back garden that looked like something that had just won the Britain in Bloom award. It was full of colour and life, basking in the Autumn sunshine courtesy of all the hard work carried out by the 78 year old woman I was buying the house from. It was quite apparent that this women’s expertise extended from disguising a leaking bathroom and a malfunctioning gas cooker to being a gardener of some skill, something that I would never be able to aspire to. I don’t know why, but daffodils and tulips apart I just have not got a clue about what flowers are what, or in fact, what the difference is between plants, shrubs and weeds. For someone who knows in detail species of birds, wild animals and freshwater fish, it is somewhat strange that plants, flowers, shrubs and trees have never taken my fancy.

Yesterday I had a small window of opportunity during our monsoon season to get outside and tackle a back a garden that now resembled a small section of the Amazonian rainforest, the only colour apart from green came from a rather sick looking pink rose. Everything else was alive and growing at an alarming rate, but none of it was flowering or producing anything attractive on the eye, why is that? Where are all the colourful blooms of two years ago? Is it too much rain and not enough sunshine, is it because I have not been pruning or dead heading it properly, or were all these colourful plants one season wonders that would perish in the winter frosts and never return? I should know the answer to that, but sadly my ignorance of garden plants knows no boundaries.

My newly chopped back garden: Look closely to the centre left and you will spot a solitary rose

Quite why I have never been a gardener I am not sure, but I expect general laziness comes into the equation as does the lack of appeal of the TV programmes on gardening when I was first entering the housing market in the mid 90’s. TV programmes such as Ground Force featuring the grating twang of the irrepressible Alan Titchmarsh alongside Charlie Dimmock, the alleged sex symbol to desperate middle aged men across the nation. Charlie Dimmock, based on the fact that she didn’t wear a bra, is a member of that elite group of unsexy women who have against all the odds become sex symbols to middle aged middle-Englanders who are so starved of sexual activity that a mop of ginger hair on top of a bra-less carrot cruncher has them searching for the Kleenex. I am dreading the day that I ridicule my son’s lust towards Beyonce as I surreptitiously shuffle off to the lavatory with a picture of Margaret Beckett.

Dimmock: Phwooaaar!…wish I was the wheelbarrow!!!

Anyway, moving on, I cut the green stuff in the middle (I think that’s called grass) and went on a frenzied secateur attack on the various bushes and weeds whilst trying not to kill anything other than stinging nettles (I know what those fuckers are) and some other bastard that left my hands full of splinters that were like little shards of glass. I found some mint (confirmed by friends on Facebook after I posted a picture) which smelt beautiful, but alongside it was something that looked like mint but smelt like sick so I killed that as well. Eventually it looked more tidy and actually, even though it is small, it is quite a sweet little garden really. I just hope that now the buds of the plants have been introduced to daylight again something might happen before our alleged summer ends, then I may be able to identify some of it with my new book of garden flowers that I have just wasted ten pounds on via Amazon.

I finished off by clearing the patio area of all empty alcohol bottles that were confirmation, if I needed it, that I drink far more units a week than the sorry tales that are listed on my GP’s record of lies that also features several years of “The odd cigar at Christmas” bullshit from back when I was smoking twenty Marlborough a day. This week I should be celebrating a whole year without the dreaded nicotine, but to my annoyance, when I was in Swanage a few weeks back I smoked three joints and half a cigarette, what a wanker I am sometimes. It is with some relief that rather surprisingly, these incidents didn’t trigger of a return to the habit that has plagued my adult years.

However, it was also confirmation that you are never a non smoker, just a recovering smoker.

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