I’ve come to the conclusion that, when it comes to gardening, it’s actually much more rewarding to let something get totally out of hand and then rescue it, than it is to do the regular weeding and maintaining needed to keep something looking nice; even if the latter is less work, the work that it is just feels a bit like housework whereas completely renovating a bit of garden feels more like making something. At least that’s my excuse for the state of the bed behind the house.
I’ve done the odd bit of weeding and tidying and planting in it, but it’s enormous and – apart from a few keepers like a couple of rhubarb crowns and a huge astilbe and a fantastic dark red rose that some idiot (possibly even this idiot, thinking about it) has planted a shrub too close to – consists mainly of those sort of plants which have all the characteristics of weeds in that they don’t look very nice and they grow whether you want them to or not but which society has decided are garden plants (I’m looking at you lady’s mantle and St John’s wort), plants which I quite like but have quite a lot of elsewhere (pulmonaria, hardy geraniums), plants which could be weeds or could be plants depending on your point of view (columbines, foxgloves) and those plants which even I can’t pretend aren’t weeds (hello creeping buttercup).
Anyway, I’ve long been thinking I should do something about it and as I can’t be doing the gardening I ought to be doing at the moment (shifting barrow loads of muck around is not recommended for the recently de-herniated) and as today is Wednesday and hence Ear Defender day (‘surely there can’t be anything else left to lay waste to?’ asked the other half as the strimmer fired up at 8:30 this morning), meaning the walled garden would be hideous with the sound of petrol-driven machinery, I made a start (as a bonus, this also means that I’m pulling ahead of the new neighbours in the tenant-gardening competition again, because they haven’t got their hedge trimmers out to lay waste to their half of the back bed. It’s just a matter of time, though).
Of course, digging stuff up is only the beginning; all that space needs to be filled but fortunately I have a plan for that which is well under way. These are the contents of the free seed packet of mixed perennials I bought last time I ventured into a garden centre unchaperoned. I wasn’t expecting them all to come up, or indeed to thrive, but it seems they all have, and in fact are climbing out of their modules (aren’t things supposed to stop growing over winter?). Hey presto, enough plants to fill all the space that I have the energy to clear, and all for the very gratifying sum of £0.00p.
The only tiny flaw in the plan is that I have absolutely no idea what 90% of it is (and the stuff I do recognise is because I already have it in the garden). So the chances are that nothing will survive the weather, the rabbits or the less than free-draining soil, and those that do will be hideous and/or clashing because I have planted them at random.
Obviously, instead of thinking ‘Wahey, free stuff! Let’s plant it and see what happens’, it would have been more sensible to make a shortlist of plants suitable for South West Scotland, bought them from a reputable garden centre, and planted them out when the bed was ready, creating a picture of subtle loveliness that delights from May to October. One day I’ll be grown up enough to actually do such things (possibly when I have a garden that I actually own). But where would be the fun in that?