In terms of the garden, when does the natural unkempt look designed to attract insects and wildlife cross the line and become an overgrown wilderness?
When I moved in with Richard the garden was a mess; not having any interest in gardening meant that he had allowed the previously well tended outdoor space to develop into a jungle. Sadly there are no pictures available to show you that I’m not exaggerating.
I don’t profess to be the world’s best gardener by any means: I have a tendency to over prune and kill even the hardiest of lavenders and the only Latin plant names I know are the ones I learnt as a child (Antirrhinum, or snapdragon; Mesembryanthemum or livingstone daisy; Digitalis or foxglove and Calendula or marigold). However, I grew up watching my parents in the garden and know that the brown bits at the base of a plant tend to be the roots and that the green bits at the top are where the flowers grow. So, wanting to restore some order I set about removing the overgrown shrubs (which all found a new home via Freegle), taming the rampant ferns, pruning the trees and generally tidying up.
I pruned the Hebe and Fuchsia either side of the front path to within an inch of their lives (and yes, they survived and are now flourishing), reduced the depth of the hedge, thereby reclaiming a valuable couple of feet of “lawn”, and planted various bulbs for an anticipated burst of springtime colour.
The back garden was adapted for growing fruit and vegetables, with Richard and I exercising some dubious DIY skills to construct a compost bin and cold frame from Freegle and skip finds.
All was looking good. The garden yielded some wonderful salads, vegetables and soft fruits, played host to barbeques, picnics and one night camping “trips” and was a pleasure to look at through the kitchen window.
But then the trampoline arrived!
Taking up the entire lawn, it dominates the tiny back garden and makes cutting the grass virtually impossible. It also severely limits access to the side flowerbed which is once more overgrown with ferns. The other 2 beds that once housed fruit and vegetables are now so neglected that I have taken a conscious decision to allow Nature free reign to see what happens. There have been times this spring when the garden has looked stunning, with a variety of poppies and wild flowers self seeding to provide a wonderful habitat for bees and butterflies.
However, the problem with allowing Nature to do her thing is the rate at which weeds grow, especially with the alternating sunshine and rain we’ve had here in the UK.
I felt that I should at least make an attempt to tidy the front garden, but all I succeeded in doing was making a mess. Though the plants I removed were technically weeds, they were also a beautiful swathe of purple flowers; all I can do now is wait patiently for the balance to be restored and the natural beauty to return.
Someone once said: “A weed is merely a plant growing in the wrong place”.
My children adore daisies and dandelions, seeing them as pretty flowers which they occasionally pick to put into a vase, and yet most gardeners work hard to remove them from their lawns as they are seen as weeds. Well I agree with my children: they are pretty flowers. Nature knows what she’s doing in my garden and my attempt to interfere was a mistake. After all, I don’t want to lose all the beautiful flowers that are simply growing in the wrong place.