How does your garden grow?


After many more set backs than we had anticipated, the date is set and packing is happening at a furious pace…and I am already missing my garden. The front garden is littered with little cuttings and plants in pots, just waiting to be moved to a new home. I look at them and think, ‘this is ridiculous, I’ve dug up half the garden and put it in pots’. But for me it’s somehow much easier to leave behind the house, but the garden is another matter…it’s my place, a space for dreaming, reflecting and being in my own skin and being myself, not a teacher, or a wife, a mum or a grandmother, I am, as Jezz always calls me ‘a Sue’.

The peonies have been frozen in the ground. Normally I love the frost and the cold for a few weeks because it brings beautiful changes to the garden, like a frozen land in a fairytale. But this week, I have been wishing it away…I needed to get a spade into the frozen soil.

Part of me wanted to run around the garden and label every plant. And then I would get this awful feeling in the bottom of my stomach ‘what if the new owners are not interested in the plants and take them out and grass the whole garden – horror sets in!

I want to tell them:

The fig was bought for me by Rebecca, my youngest daughter and has the most sweetest fruits. It is planted inside the drum of an old washing machine, which had spun it’s last load and was on its way to the tip. Occasionally when the soil is washed away by heavy rain, glimpses of the secret container can be seen surfacing just enough to see a silvery circle…a magic circle.

The variegated holly has tiny leaves and stands a good 3 feet tall. It came in a wooden tub with lots of other lovely flowers, and although they didn’t survive…the holly grew and grew. This extra special plant was a present from the very first group of students to complete the dance degree I was running…many many years ago. And the pear tree, which produces so many juicy pears…I want to tell them that the pears don’t ripen on the tree. Take them a off and they ripen in the bowl…was given to me by the last cohort of students on the Dance programme. They mature after they leave the tree…not dissimilar to millions of students around the country that are nurtured by teachers, but mature into something wonderful only when they leave the tree.

I want to tell them the hazel has never produced such plentiful catkins and left alone they will have hazelnuts in the summer. It’s long soft branches have been used for years to create little woven fences, which have often held up a flopping flower.

I want to tell them the bramble is thornless and makes great bramble pies.

I want to tell them that underneath the copper birch is the final resting place of a very special dog who died on bonfire night in the year 2000…so please don’t chop it down.

I want to tell them that the grape vine produces beautiful wine and needs to be clipped back to two bunches per branch once they are set in the summer.

I feel like a fussy parent whose child is going to school for their first day. There is no going back, everything has to move forward and in a few days time I will have a new garden to nurture…but the sadness keeps bubbling up.

If I had to pick one favourite plant from the garden, I would really struggle, there are so many. The beautiful Davis Austin roses nearly come to the top of the list, and my new found passion for Dahlias makes it hard to choose, but when push comes to shove, I think the winner would have to be the beautiful peony that has been in the garden for as many years as I can remember. It never fails to impress with huge pink flowers that always need support…but what a performer, not boastful nor modest…just perfect.

It has been divided many times and was again this week. Once the frost thawed, it revealed tiny little pink shoots. Carefully i took a few shoots from the side of this majestic plant and now it awaits a new home.

So that’s were we are, only a few more days of walking down the garden path but I will savor every moment, because gardens are important. They provide sanctuary when we need space and therapy when we need support. In my opinion gardening should be prescribed on the NHS. Now wouldn’t that be a wonderful job!

Mary Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?
With silverbells and cockleshells and pretty maids all in a row.

Tell me the stories of your favourite plants…how does your garden grow?

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