Yesterday I was speaking at an event at Broughton House. My photos don’t really do it justice but it has a garden that is, for me, pretty much the platonic ideal – not huge, but a glorious haven with wonderful borders, a productive but decorative veg plot, benches thoughtfully placed in a variety of sheltered spots and an optimistically large number of sundials when you consider the climate we have around here. It even had a resident cat who graciously allowed herself to be stroked and then plodded around in front of us as if giving us the tour.
My own garden is … somewhat less manicured, although it is about a thousand percent more manicured than it was at the start of the month. In fact, my clearing efforts have overwhelmed the capacity of the compost daleks so I have had to resort to just piling up the resulting weeds, to the point where there’s already a dalek’s worth waiting to go in.
Part of the point of my latest frantic binge gardening efforts have been to get it into a state where two octogenarians can safely reach the greenhouse to water it, for we are going away next week to the US for almost three weeks, leaving the Pepperpots in charge of the tomatoes (and keeping up with the salad). As our garden is already one big trip hazard (whoever laid it out was very fond of shallow steps with treads made out of old wooden sleepers, aka the slipperiest substance known to man), I was keen not to add to the dangers. It’s not quite National Trust standard, but you can at least now see where the paths are supposed to be and watch your footing.
Anyway, as the title of this blog post suggests, our garden does still fulfil its primary function of being wee hare habitat; something that would be less likely if it was at the more manicured end of the spectrum (or, indeed, had a resident cat). The latest leveret is a lot less chilled than its predecessor – it hasn’t come close enough to be usefully photographed, for example. But it has got wonderfully striking extra-dark tips to its ears which swivel constantly as it nibbles the clover on the drive before bolting the minute we step outside. It’s also got a worrying habit of hiding under the car when it rains, something to bear in mind when we need to drive anywhere.
Every year I try and work out how to combine an intermittently busy life with a steady application of gardening effort, and every year I revert to a cycle of binge and neglect. I’ll never have a garden quite like the one at Broughton House, but one day I hope to have one that approaches its level of charm, while still providing a steady supply of young hares to enchant us. That’s surely not too much to ask, is it?