Flicking through the latest copy of The Garden, just deposited on my doormat despite the fact that I haven’t made up my mind about renewing my RHS membership (hate the new design, by the way), I actually swore. Shocking. Ahem.
My eye had fallen on the letter from the editor, and its assertion that ‘Pick up any magazine, watch any television programme, read any blog – the most inspiring time to garden, one could assume, is between February and October.’
Hrumpf. And tosh. Especially this year, when there’s been plenty of gardening-media emphasis on the usefulness of winter as a time for planning. I’ve even heard some media gardeners talking about how lovely it is to look at branches and bark, how you aren’t so distracted by flowers. It does make you wonder which blogs the editor had been reading, too. Everyone I know is cogitating, planning, thinking, assessing. Some – and that includes me – are even planting.
See those smooth areas?
They’re my autumn – well, OK, winter – plantings of garlic and onions (the onions were a freebie – thank you, Marshalls, for over-ordering and giving some lucky purchasers a nice surprise).
I was about to say ‘of course, it’s not so photogenic a time’, but these are so cute.
And so it all begins again, round and round, because there’s really only a brief break – I think it was about three weeks here – before the clearing up after summer slides almost imperceptibly into preparing for next year. Of course the weather can be a problem. Rain, rain, rain, rain – but at least this year the meadow looks like this:
and not like this (which looks like a painting by one of the nineteenth-century Russian Itinerant artists – snow and birches, how very Russian):
Same date, same time.
We had to virtually dynamite the ground last year to get the garlic in, and the traditional (round here, anyway) Solstice planting date went by the board – mind you, it did this year too, but that was because the garlic started sprouting too early and had to go in or get thrown out.
At this time of year I can see that the bones of my garden really are sound. This becomes blurred later on as my dissatisfaction with some of my planting – and some of the things I can’t do much about, like being in the direct line of every single storm lashing in off the Irish Sea – starts to get to me. I also tend to compare my garden to other gardens, completely different gardens, gardens which look gorgeous but which have a different range of problems. But now I can also see, when I look back, that my garden does have a certain unity and a coherent style. OK, a rather dishevelled style, with a lot of wildflowers and rampant growth, but it is often lovely and it is a style and not an accident. I may need reminding of this later…
In the meanwhile, how about a little seasonality?
No holly, I’m afraid, because my holly – which is just above this ivy – is a boy and doesn’t do berries.
NADOLIG LLAWEN / HAPPY CHRISTMAS!
Have a lovely time, however you spend or celebrate it.