Reluctant Gardener

I have friends who are seriously into their gardening. They seem to derive pleasure from pruning and weeding.

I confess I will never understand this. I HATE gardening. I don’t like getting dirty; I don’t like expending unnecessary energy; unless it’s more than 21c out I get cold when I spend any time outside; and I am allergic to every form of foliage. Gardening to me is a chore, and it wastes time I would rather spend doing other things – playing computer games, for instance, where I can stay in the warm and avoid all the nasty dirt. Or writing. And I don’t mix with plants. People sometimes buy me indoor ones, and I stick them on a windowsill and then they die because I forget all about having to water them occasionally.

However, last year we bought a four-bedroom house.  Houses that size in the UK are designed to be family homes, and therefore they generally all have gardens. So that was the price we paid for our large house. It came with a garden. And gardens need maintenance.

It’s clear that none has been done for a while – and this goes beyond us not touching it since we moved in ten months ago. With the dawning of some warmer weather, suddenly things began to grow in the garden. And the speed with which they shot up made us suspect that most of them were weeds.

The first priority has been to sort out storage space. The garden came with three sheds, but they were all in a poor state. Since we have no garage at this house, and we did at the last, we need somewhere to store our stuff. And before you say it, yes I know two people in a four-bedroom house with an attic should have plenty of space indoors to store their stuff, but for us this is not the case. This weekend we have been dismantling two of the sheds, and getting the concrete bases re-done so that the new sheds we have ordered will have a level base to stand on when they arrive. The third shed we decided to leave in place, since it seemed to be more or less in one piece, but it was leaning at an angle, so we got it levelled out (which apparently involved a gardening equivalent of propping beer mats under the leg of a wobbly table). In order to get this done, it became necessary to empty it.

Bear in mind we haven’t ventured too far into this shed since we moved in. As well as it being home to a variety of spiders and creepy-crawlies, it was also full of stuff left there by the previous owners – who clearly were enthusiastic gardeners. A few things in this shed we are still puzzling over. There is an unopened flat pack from Ikea called Truro. Looks to be some kind of shelving unit, that it seems someone bought and then forgot all about. There’s a plastic bag full of brown glass bottles. Why on earth would someone stockpile bottles? The only explanation I can come up with is that at some point the previous owners dabbled in home-made hooch of some sort.

Our ultimate aim, since we have a garden, is to turn it into a space that it might be pleasant to sit in on the rare occasions the sun deigns to shine over the UK. But getting there is hard and dirty work, and involves getting a bit too up close and personal with creepy-crawlies.

On the plus side, we have discovered there are strawberry plants growing in our garden, which seem to be thriving well despite my brown thumb – but since they are outdoors they get rained on frequently, and I guess that’s good for strawberry plants. I picked the first ripe red fruits off them this weekend, and I have to say that they are delicious – fresh and juicy. I don’t mind plants that produce yummy berries in my garden. As long as they produce fruit on their own, without my having to do anything.


4 comments so far

  1. Zola on

    Aha! You have already tasted the first delights of gardening. And actually, a good deal of plants will just get on with it without you having to do much except water them if it’s super dry (Ha! Not for the last few summers!) and weed a bit. If you want to add to the edibles, you could try a few salad leaves or herbs. They don’t need any fussing with. It is possible to have a pretty garden that’s also low maintenance. If you want more fruit and veg, though, you’d need to do a little more work.

    We don’t have a low maintenance garden, and I don’t like getting dirty much either, but I have gardening clothes and gardening gloves and come in and have a good shower when I’m done. For me, the rewards are worth it. I realise it’s not everybody’s idea of a good time.

    I think one of the things that people especially like about gardening is that there’s always something to look forward to. And in February when a lot of people are thoroughly sick of winter, you can go in the garden and find green shoots to bring you hope that life is coming back and spring is on the way.

    • sayssara on

      The watering thing is a problem. For the average British summer, it’s fine. But if we go weeks without rain, the plants will die. I have killed every house plant I have ever owned because three months later I think, ‘oh I must water that plant’ only to discover it’s already dead.

      And the hay fever is also a problem. Especially this year – pollen count is at a record high. If I spend more than two minutes outside I need a pack of tissues. Kind of interrupts any momentum.

      • sayssara on

        Oh yes – one more thing. Is it possible to enjoy one’s garden without having to encounter any creepy-crawlies??

  2. Zola on

    Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, it is perfectly possible to have a nice wander around the garden after work, doing the watering with a beverage of your choice in one hand and a watering can or hose in the other. Very good for de-stressing from the day job.

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