Tuesday, 19 July 2011

In which I am forced to admit I don't have green fingers

The Owl and I are not very good at gardening. Or rather, we're not very consistent. We've lived in four different rental properties since we first moved in together, and all of them have had gardens of some description. Sometimes we have a fit of enthusiasm and decide to Do Things In The Garden, which lasts all of a week or two before the plants start, like, wanting stuff and we give up. (As for our indoor pot plants, it's a case of "abandon hope all ye who enter here".) During our first summer living together, when we were still all excited about doing the grocery shopping as a couple, we went to Homebase and bought a fork, spade, trowel, gloves etc. I haven't seen most of them since, other than when packing up to move house.

The second place we lived in was a nightmare for many reasons, and we didn't have access to much of the garden for much of the time, so our efforts there were mostly confined to hacking down the buddleia when it started peering through the windows on the upper floor. Eventually the builders hired by the fiendish landlady (long story) decided to destroy the back lawn without warning and leave us with a kind of muddy swamp, at which point I burst into tears and we handed in our notice.

The third house had a garden that was really just a lawn with a bunch of easily-ignorable shrubs and bushes. Owl mowed the lawn, and I occasionally picked up the crisp packets that blew in. That was more or less the extent of our efforts, and to tell you the truth, the garden didn't change visibly over the two years we spent there.

Now we live in a ground floor flat with a little paved-and-gravelled yard out the back. It's a bit dreary to look at, so this spring we decided to grow some things in pots to brighten it up. We had a few different kinds of salad leaves, some coriander and lemon balm, two tomato plants, some lavender and a pink daisy-like sort of little bush thing (the proper name is Daisius thingius, I think). Well. We had a few tasty salads before the plants started to flower. That was weeks ago and we haven't chucked them out yet, though they're now several feet tall and almost dead. The coriander bypassed leggy long ago and is probably now capable of jumping the fence and sprinting away, and the lemon balm is not far behind. I'm not sure what we did wrong with Daisius but he is basically a bunch of brown sticks poking sadly out of the compost. Every so often we look out of the window and remark that we really ought to do something about the garden. Then we forget about it for another fortnight.

The lavender and tomatoes are doing quite well, though. We do grow tomatoes quite successfully most summers. And the seed that the fat pigeons drop from the bird feeder is growing like stink, unfortunately. I've just spent half an hour pulling up grass from the gravel and you can't really tell that I've done anything at all. Plus it's taken me as long again to get the pigeon shit out from under my finger nails. Urgh.

The thing is, I love gardens and I really want to be the kind of person who has a beautiful garden and knows all about plants. This may be up there with my fantasy of being an incredible novelist with good hair who never shouts at her children and whose house always smells like fresh-baked bread. Hm.

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