Garden visitors should have a positive effect on a head-gardener who is used to contemplating sweeping vistas and grand views with four cats and a dog for company. Great excitement! The Moosey Garden is to be officially visited by a group of ladies.
They are generally non-gardeners, though one or two of them potter with pansies. It's a great excuse to get the garden ready - but what needs to be done? I have a million questions. Will the ladies have suitable footwear? Will they think I am totally irresponsible growing Gunnera? A rational plan of garden attack is called for.
Garden Plan for Paths
Specialist garden tourists are self-motivated navigators. They'll barge through the undergrowth, stepping nimbly between the treasures. They wear sensible shoes, and know instinctively how flexible a Hebe is as they push past. Paths which gradually disappear are OK - they'll use them confidently, no matter how narrow, winding or overgrown.
But these ladies, all amateurs, will need clear path signals. They won't want to barge through flaxes or run bendy-slalom courses through the shrubs. All the paths must be raked and cleared. In spring the Moosey paths can get rather overcrowded - all edging shrubs and slippery tussocks must be trimmed back. Nobody should slip on a carex or overbalance into a clump of damp, watery ferns. Or get spiked in the eye by a low-hanging flax spear - danger lurks, in the middle of Middle Garden...
Garden Plan for Water Features
The Moosey Garden has a couple of water features. One is a water race - a burbling canal, planted with overhanging shrubs, flaxes and giant Gunnera. There is also an irrigation pond surrounded by flaxes. Visitors could easily be drawn to water (hopefully they will not wobble in), and my weeding and flax trimming programme should reflect this.
Garden Plan for Seats and Benches
The Moosey seats are risky - they are solitary, rustic structures, liable to splinter an unsuspecting bottom. Since I intend to personally escort the ladies, I will direct them quickly past the garden seats and benches. If anyone is tempted to sit down I shall claim instability, unless the ladies are tired - in which case I will probably have been guiding them too quickly. Memo to self - take a slow, leisurely, graceful tempo.
Sitting Down with Puppy
There can be no silly distractions for the ladies. A couple of stray foxglove seedlings in the middle of Middle Path may offer the cute factor, but a large colony will sap the confidence and cause all sorts of problems. Typical questions include 'Is this really a path?' and 'Should I tread on these little green plants?' So all old bits of garden rubbish must be removed. A discarded, non-rotting plant label announcing Hypericum sunshine (from the bargain bin of 2002) or a blue plastic pot left lying by the Hostas will just not do. Polite, tidy visitors may well feel the urge to lunge and retrieve...
I've been practising introducing the different garden areas by name (on Jerome the Grey, the only cat who will follow me and concentrate). I can now casually give a brief history of each garden - with hand gestures! I have details on types of trees, and comments on the pinkness of the Rhododendrons, the mauveness of the Potentillas, the English bluebells which might be Spanish, and so on. And there's humour - for example, Duck Lawn will be introduced grandly, and then I will make that joke about changing its name to Duckless Lawn. Thank you, Rusty the puppy, for chasing all the visiting ducks away!
Clematis Flowering on the Pond Paddock Arch
Right. Is the head-gardener ready? Is the Moosey garden ready?
Footnote - The Visiting Ladies Have Just Left...
What lovely ladies! Gliding gracefully along my paths, admiring my deep purple flaxes and foliage trees, not wobbling into the water race... And such high self esteem! No problems here about being candidly photographed from the rear... And what superb safety standards in the Moosey Garden! Nobody was spiked by a Phormium Tenax leaf or head-butted by a low flying Pittosporum branch.
The ladies' garden visit was a resounding success!