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Gardening Leave

No, I haven’t been sent home from work in disgrace. I have quite literally been on gardening leave today – I put in an annual-leave request to my boss with the express intent of spending it gardening. Christopher’s college friend Carol and her partner Mark came here yesterday with a car full of garden implements, a big bucket of chicken manure, and tray after tray of seedlings and cuttings from their garden. They stayed overnight, and spent all yesterday afternoon and this morning doing a “Groundforce”-style makeover of significant chunks of my garden. Carol directed operations, weeded and planted; Mark wielded a spade expertly, dug out brambles and nettles, and did loads of heavy lifting; and I did a bit of supervised light weeding but generally felt I was surplus to requirements – they are a well-honed team and I felt I was in the way! My main role was to keep them supplied with cups of tea and hearty meals.

Carol has really taken on board my strong desire for a low-maintenance garden, so all the plants she brought are perennials and I’m promised that none of them are attention-seeking prima-donnas. I now have one bank planted with alpine strawberries, another with sedums and potentilla, and a third with comfrey and acanthus. A significant part of the rose-bed is now cleared of weeds and under-planted with hardy-geraniums and violets, there are more ornamental poppies next to my existing ones under the apple-trees, and a whole new flower-bed has been created out of a semi-infertile patch of weeds, and planted with geraniums and day-lillies. Plus my herb-garden has been significantly augmented with a rather large and surprised-looking sage bush, a bronze fennel and some golden thyme. I don’t necessarily expect all of the many dozens of plants to survive being transplanted, but it will give me a really good indication of what plants do well and are therefore worth investing in buying more of.

I know that there is a lot more to do in the garden, but we’ve made a really good start. I’ve also spoken to my regular gardener and asked him to spend half a day per week during the growing season doing the weeding, so that I can keep on top of the garden and not let it regress now that we’ve made a start in getting on top of it. Carol has suggested that, if I get the gardener to clear the weeds in the rest of the rose-bed, she has plenty more seedlings and cuttings which she could bring along in a few months time to under-plant amongst the roses. That sounds good to me – and when she and Mark left after lunch I suggested that they borrow some books and CDs from me, to give them an even greater incentive to come back soon!

Carol has really taken on board my strong desire for a low-maintenance garden,. so all the plants she brought are perennials and I’m promised that none of them are attention-seeking prima-donnas.

{ 5 } Comments

  1. Carol | 12 June 2012 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    We need no incentives – I just love messing with other people’s gardens. Mind you, the hearty meals and cups of tea are a bonus, especially when it is raining persistently!
    We will return!

  2. Mark | 13 June 2012 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    You were in no way “surplus to requirements”. You looked after us superbly and did at least as much weeding as I did. Odd as it might seem it was a nice relaxing break for us and we are very grateful for your hospitality.

  3. Gillian | 13 June 2012 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    It was lovely to have you both to stay – and not just because you were both so enthusiastic about getting to grips with the garden despite the rain! Some of your enthusiasm must have rubbed off, as I actually made the effort yesterday evening to water all the new plants to give them a bit of encouragement to survive. I hope it works on at least some of them, or I shall feel so guilty!

  4. Tim Hope | 13 June 2012 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Are you going to post some photos? I wish we had a nice garden, but It’s only the size of a double garage with a small patio on the side, so it just never looks that nice!

  5. Gillian | 15 June 2012 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    Hi Tim. Good to hear from you. I’ll try to post some pictures once the weather improves. It’s been pouring with rain pretty much all week. I wouldn’t want you to get the idea that I’ve got a nice garden though. I’ve got a big garden, which needs a great deal of work – and that’s not the same thing at all!