Shouts for attention Posted on May 18, 2015

Perhaps I shouldn’t have fed the brutes. May always catches me out. For weeks we enjoy the slow unfurling of spring; then suddenly, one day in May when we’ve made other plans, every plant in the garden shouts for attention. Its flower-buds start to open or its shoots zoom out and block your path. Or shoots that looked full of promise suddenly flop.

If there’s never enough time to keep up with what’s happening, let alone drink in the beauty of it all, the pressure of planting and pruning and staking and generally maintaining order keeps me outside until I need a torch to see what I’m doing. Then I have the drink I sorely need and forget what it was.

So, today, I have planted six things, fed all the pots, taken cuttings of salvias and fuchsias and pelargoniums, fed the agapanthus, restrained the solanum, shown roses and clematis which way to go, clipped box hedges, spread manure, given the vine weevil something nasty, and changed my mind ten times.

I’m not, I fear, the most realistic gardener. I plant things that I know will grow too big (that solanum, for one). I dream that miserably unsuitable and sickly plants will recover, that dust is fertile and shade sunny, and that, as Christopher Lloyd once crushingly said, all my geese are swans. And it hasn’t taught me a thing.

At the same time I’m timid. I imagine new schemes but don’t do anything about them. I stick to plants I know; a better variety is out there, I expect, but I love the original. ‘New’ is my least favourite word: the catalogue goes straight in the bin. I’m upset by change for change’s sake. When they altered ‘them’ (that trespass against us) to ‘those’ I wrote to the archbishop.

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