Only six weeks to go before we move house. There’s a lot of memories and emotion tied up in a garden of more than forty years. I planted most of the now-mature trees; our children grew up here and our grandchildren (three of them at least), will have it registered in their early memories. But no violins, I insist. The trees will grow on, and our successor has already shared some excellent ideas with us. We can only feel positive, and look forward to our next billet.
There is a contrast. From 12 acres to something like 1000 square feet is down-sizing (or ‘free-upping’ ) as one friend called it. We are moving to a Victorian house in Kensington with a garden that (for the moment at least) stresses the paving element, so competition for space is intense.
I started mentally listing the plants we absolutely must take with us at Christmas. Mid-winter is a good time to start, with so (relatively) little showing above ground. I must try self-discipline: the mid-winter roster alone would fill the whole space, but a white hellebore with inner crimson splashes (H. orientalis guttatus) I’ve been growing from seed has a place. So does Sarcococca hookeriana var. hookeriana – though there’s scarcely room for its name. There’s no room for dogwoods, however vivid their winter bark. A white camellia sasanqua in a tub – maybe. Iris stylosa from under the wall here. Pots of crocus tommasinianus and the everyday snowdrops ……. But where are all the pots going to live?
What’s clear is that we must build a conservatory – and find room for a greenhouse, however tiny, to back it up. The first priority for glass is our Meyer’s lemon. It has taken nearly twenty years to grow it to six feet in its little lemon-decorated pot, and I have few more precious possessions. Just now the flower-buds are opening and a hint of the coming sweetness is in the air. The other current conservatory star is the Hardenbergia whose light purple panicles droop from roof level. That’s a pot that will have to come too.