October Column: Homegrown Gardener

Published on: 03 Oct 2012

October Column: Homegrown Gardener

The past four weeks have brought to an end the season for open gardens. What a treat to wander around looking at the work of other people and wondering how they manage to keep the garden so tidy and full of blooms, foliage, grass and gravel paths.  We recently visited an old manor house and garden near Melksham.  It had a small church in the garden, open to viewing.  Lawns were immaculate, beds around the church full of large plants, walls made from local stone and masses of beds of various hues.  There were so many plants which one would covet and gladly have a cutting to bring on.  Which reminds me about the next paragraph...

Etiquette in a garden.  Is there such a thing?  I think so.  In your own garden you make your own rules.  When  you have used a trowel, fork, shears, etc, clean them and put them back in the designated space.  If you use the watering can, when  you have finished leave it full.  If you are working in the border at the edge of the grass or path, clear any spilt soil back onto the bed.  If cutting a hedge or bush, sweep and bag the cuttings.  Incidentally, I find the cuttings from box hedges compost down very well, providing a different texture.  I love my compost. 

Now, if you are going to visit a friend with a garden, how do you behave?  Do you pinch off a couple of shoots to take home? Is it the height of rudeness to snap a couple of dead heads which you see?  Do you point out the blackfly on the dahlias?  Do you remark that your sweet peas are well ahead of those of your host?  One particular irritation to me is to have someone arrive to visit you,  bringing six dahlias and 12 tagetes which they have grown from seed, expecting you to find room in your beds for them.  If you have spare, call me first to check to see if I would like them and have room for them, rather than expect me to cram them in somewhere and have them fighting for space with my favourite rose or peony.  There, I have had my rant and feel better for it!

Miss Wilmott's GhostHave you heard the srory of Miss Wilmot’s Ghost? Around the beginning of the 20th century Miss Wilmot, the daughter of a wealthy London solicitor, became something of a noted gardener and took pleasure in inviting people to visit her garden. However, she did not take kindly to any criticism or disparaging remarks. Anyone overheard making such remarks was noted, and later received a visit from  her. Unknown to the host, Miss Wilmot would scatter some seeds of a thistle-type plant, which was prolific in self-seeding and growth. The following year there would be Miss Wilmot’s Ghost, and remain for years to come. The plant is Eryngium Giganteum – we have some in our garden!

A while ago I wrote bemoaning the disappearance of bats birds etc. A week ago while sitting outside at dusk, enjoying a fine evening I thought my eyes were misleading me, as flutterings could be seen briefly. Paying more attention I realised it was a couple of bats causing the disturbance. They were backwards and forwards feeding on insects and difficult to follow. So all is well in the garden, and I look forward to finding a hedgehog in the garden or hearing the swallows in the sky.

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