Bedding Down

Finally winter has arrived, for those of us lucky enough to be able to be welcomed home to a warm house and a casserole. Hopefully it will be a chilly but relaxed winter – enough to reset the plants and animals in the garden to a proper winter cycle which we have not really had for a few years. As discussed recently the last thing we need is it to be inconsistent with a mid-December heatwave; the species that are likely to wake up too early from hibernation could do with a year off – we’re pretty sure the local bat population in particular has suffered in the last couple of years by being woken by unexpectedly warm weather only to find no food, and unlike the birds it is not something we can do a lot about to compensate.

It has been a good year for us in the garden –plenty of redcurrants, blackcurrants, apples and a good crop of home grown garlic to liven up several months of casseroles and pasta dishes. Less successful has been some of the decorative planting, where the inevitable squirrel/pigeon and most of all, the blasted slug, onslaught on anything new in the garden has been again a source of frustration and ultimately disappointment as suddenly without warning the promising looking Lobelia is munched to the ground overnight (after weeks of being untouched, clearly just lulling me into a sense of false safety). The worst part of it is that I actually quite admire slugs and snails, but we would get on a lot better if they would eat the ground elder rather than my Salvia.

I know nothing about gardening. As a child, it was a chore, and I hated anything to do with it. Admittedly, the only aspect of gardening my youthful self was ever involved in was mowing the lawns, which could never be viewed as a particularly interesting job. Actually, I will make an exception there – the Lovely Wife and I do agree that mowing the lawn could be fun if you had a huge lawn… and therefore needed one of those little lawn mowers you can sit on and, um, play on. But aside from that fantasy scenario it is probably my least favourite chore. After hoovering the house… Oh, and ironing.

But I really don’t know what I’m doing messing around in flower beds, so anything that seems to grow and thrive is either very lucky or extremely robust.

Part of the problem on my part is a lack of planning. The Lovely Wife and I have a recognised ‘poles apart’ scenario here, which goes a bit like this. I see an interesting looking plant/shrub/tree in a shop or market stall and proceed to buy. At that point I look to shoehorn it into what seems an appropriate gap in the garden. Several times this year I have returned, beaming, from the market with several (reusable!) bags of bedding plants to be greeted with something along the lines of ‘that’s all very nice, but where are they going to go?’ (My reaction is usually a bit of a shrug, unless I’ve had an inspirational moment, although I’ve yet to try the vague gesture towards the end of the garden with a deliberately ambiguous ‘over there of course’ gambit). The Lovely Wife of course looks at the space, thinks about what the space could look like, considers the drainage and level of shade etc. etc. and then determines what we need to go and buy. I’m always terribly impressed, and I’m trying to learn to do the same, honestly I am, but my natural tendencies tend to reassert themselves at a moment’s notice.

Of course, by this point I’ve already filled that place with some random plant picked up on a whim, but at least she can be reassured that the chances of it dying by being in the wrong soil and location and/or will be massacred by the local wildlife, so order will have a chance of being restored, eventually.