Could The Experts Be Wrong?

This Border Can’t Wait Another Year

We’ve probably all tried to read a few gardening books in our time, and found out we were doing almost everything wrong; pruning the spring-flowering Spiraea in the autumn instead of the spring, giving the flower border a quick watering to keep it going in the heat of the Summer (supposedly doing more harm than good), tugging up bind weed in frustration without excavating the deep root: the list just goes on and on. Abashed we often give up and the task never gets done at all. We end up skulking around our garden guiltily, imagining Alan Titmarsh or Percy Thrower shaking a gigantic reproving finger over our every deed. The first thing to say is: Just Get On With It!
Most of us only have so much time and money to give to our garden, and sometimes we cannot bear to look at something unsightly any longer. Remember these experts are full time gardeners, and furthermore have a team of workers responsive to their every whim (Dream-on gentle reader!). There’s an historical reason for their preaching as well, and the associated endless lists of feeding and weeding, lifting and dunging etc. etc., because the expert’s tradition has grown out of Country House Gardening a century or so ago, when labour was cheap and a team of a dozen or more gardeners the norm.
If something goes wrong, and you’re left looking at the dead stump of a shrub or brown streaks across the lawn, instead of the healthy new grass you hoped the feed would produce or, worse, look at your heap of prunings and notice dainty flower buds on every cut stem, then don’t be discouraged: because you’ve learnt something. You’re more knowledgeable and will be better prepared for the task next time; it’s really the only way we learn anything, and ten to one you’ll smile gently in the future, when you see a novice making the same mistake.
My particular bête-noire amongst the dictats Monsieur Titmarsh et. al. is the prohibition on working when the ground is wet; don’t mow the lawn, don’t dig and separate the plants in the border, don’t even tread on it. Of course soil-compaction is a problem, responsible I am sure for the dire state of many lawns, but, given the way the grass continues to grow during the strange, long wet autumns we get these days, there has to be a compromise, and if gardening teaches us anything, it is the need to make compromises. Moreover the wait for the perfect day to service the flower border; with the ground dry and no danger of a frost, is a long one, and the chances are when it comes you’ll be at work, or booked to visit your mother in law.
For gardener’s in West Wickham and Coney Hall this is especially problematic; I’m sure you’re only to aware how the damp hangs around here and find there are areas of your garden which are either sopping wet or frozen solid, from October to May.
If you use my gardening service you gain a bit of flexibility, but the day still comes, as winter deepens, when I have to say; ‘It’s now, or never’, with regard to the overgrown boarder, or the client looks at the long grass, and says; ‘I don’t care, it’s so long the cats getting lost; just cut it’.
So don’t let them get you down; with the shorter days, by the time you’ve finished learning how it should be done there’s no time left to do it and, all too often Gardener’s World, or its radio equivalent, Gardener’s Question Time will leave you with an inferiority complex, which Sigmund would tell you in no uncertain terms, inhibits action. If you do need a little help or advice, give me a call at westwickhamgardener, and in no time the problem will be gone and the inferiority thingy with it: you’ll look Titmarsh in the eye and say ‘Mind your own business and we’ll get on with the gardening.’

Let’s Get The Rake Out!


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