In the garden

Over the last two weeks I have taken you up in the air and travelling across New York state. This week I’m sticking nearer to home. In fact, I’m taking you into my garden.

I was very lucky to grow up in homes with wonderful gardens. They were big enough to run around in and play imaginative games. My mother was a keen gardener and made every one of her gardens beautiful. I loved the flowers and enjoyed listening to Mum talk about them, though very little of her abundant knowledge actually stuck.

When I first moved into my present house, the back garden was gravel, with a few stepping stones, a path to the back gate, and the tubs of a few favourite plants that I had brought with me.

The property had stood empty for some time and the local cats had come to regard the gravel as a giant litter tray put out for their exclusive use. This was thoroughly unpleasant – doubly so, as I couldn’t see what I was treading in. I eventually managed to tackle the problem, however, with a product called “Silent Roar”, which turned out to be made of lion poo. You spread it round the garden and the cats stayed away. It was dry and completely odourless to humans, but not to the more sensitive noses of all the local moggies, who thought that a very big cat indeed had been using their litter tray! Once I’d spread Silent Roar round the garden, they kept well clear.

The garden path originally included a huge stone step. There was nothing to indicate where it was and nothing to hang on to when you got there. I fell down it the first time I went in the garden, so something had to be done about that.

The tubs were also proving difficult to maintain and my plants were not thriving. I took advice from friends with gardening know-how and they explained that tubs were harder work than borders because you had to keep watering them.

That surprised me. Maybe tubs weren’t the way forward after all.

My flowers weren’t flourishing but an idea gradually began to grow. Why not have a “proper” garden with borders?

And, of course, a proper garden should have a tree in it.

I started to get BIG ideas.

A friend recommended a local family firm called Down to Earth who did landscape gardening, and I employed them to transform my gravel back-yard into something more pleasing.

They paved the majority of the space, which is not large, and managed to level off the huge step which I had fallen over. (You can’t even tell where it was now.)

I chose tactile paving so I would get some sensory interest from walking on it.

They also created two borders, one on each side of the garden, and put up a fence with attractive trelliswork.

The final touch was the addition of a stone circle in the middle of the paving, into which they planted a silver birch. I chose a silver birch not only because they are such elegant trees but also because they are supposed to attract the insects that bats eat.

Now I had my “proper” garden, I sorted out the remaining tubs, bought some hanging baskets, and started to plan.

This is probably where I got a bit overexcited.

My brother and I spent a lot of time on the Internet searching out scented plants and, before I knew it, I was sending off for some.

I then discovered the joy of garden centres. I couldn’t go to one of these establishments without buying something or, more often than not, several somethings. The borders and tubs started to fill up. I had to get more tubs.

In short, I found I was my mother’s daughter!