This week saw some more planting in the front garden, which is now looking really good. There is a feeling of structure to it now, but still plenty of space for more plants as the season moves on. The back garden looks a bit neglected by comparison, probably because it has been, so that’s the next thing to tackle. I know that, left to its own devices, it would look perfectly good by midsummer – it always does – but I am itching for change. In particular the first lawn, which has never been a success, is in my sights for treatment: the grass (mostly moss at the moment) is to go, and a gravel garden will replace it. Last night I had the idea of trying to incorporate a pond too: not sure it will work, but I will think about it. Ponds are such good value, especially for children, and our present one is tiny, if frog-filled.
My wee girl’s birthday present is to be a playhouse in the garden, so a base for that needs to be constructed. Fortunately there is a good spot for it, with little or nothing growing (a horseradish will need moving, and a few naturalised primroses which can go into the front, but that’s all). It will be tucked in behind the apple tree and against a fence with Jasminus growing over it, so should feel a bit ‘secret’ for her. She is very keen on ‘houses’ of one sort and another, so this will make it more fun for her to play in the garden while I work in the greenhouse nearby.
Have been busy in other folk’s gardens this week, and making the most of some glorious afternoons – it’s been misty and murky here in the mornings. A huge Buddleia davidii came under the loppers yesterday (actually a triple-pronged attack of loppers, pruning saw and secateurs), necessitating several journeys to the recycling centre. I have an enormous pile of cuttings to remove from another garden too, which has built up since the autumn, and now needs moving ahead of some fence being replaced behind it: said fence is leaning at an alarming angle, though not due to the rubbish, which is simply in the way.
My most exciting project at the moment is pulling together a garden in preparation for the owners’ Silver Wedding celebrations in June, which coincides with the daughter’s 21st birthday – so a big outdoor bash is planned I think. Anyway, I have carte blanche and the brief is simply to make the garden look as attractive as possible by the end of June. I imagine this is a bit like it feels to do a show garden: everything has to be at its best by a certain date. But with the additional need for whatever I do to be sustainable thereafter, it’s not a stage set, it’s their garden. My head is buzzing with ideas and thoughts – what a welcome feeling.
Today was to be an odd-jobs day here and on the allotment, but may have to reschedule the odd one until a dry day. But the feeling of drizzly rain is terrific, we do need days and days of it – hard though it is on Mrs G and the boy who have been stuck indoors all week, and need some fresh air.
Was reading some pieces in Ruth Petrie’s Notes from the Garden last night – a collection of gardening articles from The Guardian. I had forgotten all about the Percy Thrower scandal, when he was sacked from Gardener’s World for doing ICI adverts – but I had also forgotten that he only presented GW for 7 years, it seemed like he was there forever when I was watching as a small boy. I do remember that the scandal was quite a talking point at the time, especially in conversation with older relatives, of which there was a lot in those days. Christopher Lloyd’s contributions made me laugh out loud a few times – not something that can be said of much garden writing – but my favourite was a brief review of Derek Jarman’s Garden from 1995. The description of photographer Howard Sooley, whose photographs illustrate the book (which I don’t actually have, but will now look for), is glorious: “Sooley himself…looking like a giraffe that has stared long and hard at a photograph of Virginia Woolf.” I have no idea what Howard Sooley actually looks like, but I think I would know him anywhere…
PS there are some lovely photos of Narcissus at www.howardsooley.com