Friday, July 24, 2015

Puttering Days

It’s understandable if readers assume that I must have a huge, sprawling property, the outer reaches only accessible after a day’s ride on the back of grumbling burro. In fact, it’s barely large enough to support a pair of anorexic sheep. Since I don’t believe I’ve ever really described my garden as a whole, I should tell a little more about it. The front, like many suburban gardens, is dominated by a driveway with a narrow strip along each side. The few scattered evergreens there are surrounded by ground covers — Scottish moss, creeping thyme, and phlox. I don’t spend a lot of time on the front as it’s fairly low maintenance.

The path that leads to the back yard is bordered on the shady side by periwinkle and old evergreens and is about halfway down my someday list for rejuvenation.  The other side of the path is startlingly different, and it’s glorious — for about week each year. Just three ornamental grasses soaring from a long bed of lavender.

Through the gate at the top of the steps is where my real garden begins, the backyard. There’s a brick courtyard first, a shady corner covered by a pergola. A climbing rose on the trellis at the end further cuts down on the light, making it perfect for the tuberous begonias I grow there in galvanised pails. They swing gently from the pergola, sometimes not so gently if I’m not looking where I’m going. Watch out. They’re just a few of the far too many containers that are everywhere around the garden.

Beyond the pergola is a brick patio, a mixed perennial bed on the left with a pair of clematis on the fence. It’s old barn board and surrounds the rear garden, except it’s completely covered at the bottom end by Virginia creeper and by Boston ivy down the right side. The rear garden is about ten metres wide and thirty meters deep, and I’d hardly call it formally landscaped as I tend to scatter plants at whim, but it seems to work out. Getting from one end to the other isn’t straightforward. The most obvious pathway diverts onto the mini lawn. A right turn right instead crosses the patio and around the trellis which hides the huge rose garden (ahem) and my pond — no diving from the deck.

Find your way back onto the original path and it will take you down between flowerbeds to a cedar rail archway into the veggie garden, which also contains a couple of compost heaps, and a rabbit sanctuary. At least they think it’s a rabbit sanctuary.

I don’t seem to be growing as many vegetables as I used to, so I’m thinking — just thinking, of completely redesigning the whole area here. Retrace your steps and take the shortcut onto the dog lounging lawn and there’s a bench to sit on. This spring I took out and old shrub behind the bench. It was one of the originals and had become overgrown. It blossomed in spring but didn’t contribute much through the rest of the year. Its removal opened up a completely new area where I’ve stuck a few things in to fill the space. I didn’t so formulate a plan, but rather, I’ve given the plants an opportunity to perform and then I’ll manipulate the results. There’s definitely a lot of replanting that goes on in my garden.

Overall, I think it’s a gardener’s garden and I try to keep it interesting for as much of the year as possible, but there’s always one day when I look at it and think, yes, this is it; this is the day. Maybe it will be tomorrow — maybe not.



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