In the garden
Sitting at the back of the house in my new all weather bistro set making a list of things to do in the garden. I am rather close to the feeder and the birds are not pleased. But my heart has hardened. Who pays for the bird food ? The few brave ones are young and naïve. A blue tit not yet blue. A goldfinch fledgling. And a pair of feisty adult siskin who care for nobody.
I'm pleased with the changes. Twenty years in this house and I never seem to have got the garden right. It's making me think of my mother. As a young woman she worked as a machinist in a factory. Piece work. You learned to be quick and accurate. Eventually she graduated to men's tailoring. The crème de la crème. Then she married and the Second World War came along. Hard times. After the war my father died and times were even harder. We lived in a tiny tenement flat and scrimped and saved. But we looked good. Other people's cast offs which she took apart and transformed. She had a great sense of colour and style.
But the inside of the flat was a disaster. It wasn't the lack of money and it wasn't that she didn't try. She just didn't like housework and had mad ideas. The kitchen where we lived was painted with orange gloss paint. Cheerful and easy to clean but it showed every bulge and crack. The linoleum was brick red and the table had a wine table cover. It gives me a headache to remember. Her flair for colour didn't seem to translate from clothes.
My garden has been a bit like that. Why didn't I see that orange oriental poppies were not going to look good next to a pink rose ? Why did I try to grow every kniphofia known to man when the conditions weren't right ? Or build a wildlife pond which wildlife mostly couldn't get to ?
Now I have a focus. My knees have crumbled and I like photography. Bees and butterflies are in trouble. Even I can add two and two. My insect friendly plants stay and have been given room to spread. New additions may be wild or cultivated but they must like the conditions and insects must like them. Although still in transition, the garden in July was a-buzz with bees and yesterday I saw a white butterfly and five tortoiseshells on the inula. Five ! I must be doing something right.
After twenty years my mother got things right too. Coming home for Christmas once I found the kitchen transformed. Some things remained. I think the wine table cover was one. But the room looked calm and cosy and all of a piece. What had happened ? I never found out although I paid her compliments and made a fuss. But I know she was pleased with what she had achieved and so am I.

Cranesbill, scabious,
buddleia, verbena........but
I love inula.

1 comment

Rabbitroundtheworld said:

"Twenty years in this house and I never seem to have got the garden right."

This made me smile. How come the house/garden we live in is never the same as the one in our heads? In my head, I live in a charming, characterful cottage, full of books and interesting nick-nacks but also strangely uncluttered, light and airy, beautifully coordinated decor, gorgeous. In reality, I live in a house in an almost permanent state of mess and Stuff, with only one of the rooms decorated pretty much as I would want it. 'Oh well', I say to myself, 'I haven't been here long, still just finding my feet'. How long have I been here? 14 years.
10 years ago