We have our very first garden here at Journey Mansion, but it’s okay because our cousins gave us a Very Big Gardening Book which has all the answers. This is how I know I should have put the asparagus in completely differently. Other things we are learning as we go along, like it’s not a great idea to dig a trench a foot deep to house a path when the bricks you are using are only three inches high (I call it a sunken path and pretend I did it on purpose).
Mortality strikes unexpectedly in a garden. I had the scented equivalent of visions involving a mingled jasmine and honeysuckle hedge, but the jasmine turned itself into a sorry bundle of twigs. I have no idea why the twin rosemary bushes which started so well have now become brown and crispy. Other things, like whole crops of basil, disappear without a trace in a single night.
Admittedly, I am something of a natural disaster by myself; I have yet to confess to accidentally mowing down an asparagus plant or weeding bulbs I planted a few weeks before. I put rose fertiliser on the miniature rose bush, which offended it mortally. It is now an accusatory stick by the front door.
For each of these failures, though, there are successes. The Michaelmas daisies that came from the garden of my friend’s dead mother-in-law stand tall and proud, almost unique in that I know what they are. Around them froths an exuberant sea of orange thingies that self seeded from next door. These are pleasingly matched by the blue thingies with the delicate green fronds, similarly welcome migrants.
Our garden is a bit like a reverse mullet; party at the front, where I am allowed to grow all the flowers I want, and business out the back. If R had her way, I think we would dig over the entire back lawn for vegetables. As it is, we cram in corn, garlic, pumpkins, rhubarb, blueberries, courgettes, asparagus and tomatoes, with aubergines, chilis and basil flourishing on the windowsill. I forgot to put the labels on the seedlings, so some of this will depend on guesswork.
On weekends I have discovered the earthy pleasures of digging, mowing and weeding, the satisfaction of a truly ugly hat and the revelation of knee pads. On weeknights my flowers greet me as I turn the corner at the end of my road with a floral round of applause. It is most gratifying.