Aha! Inspired by my TV couch-cycling exploits in Switzerland (le Tour de Suisse), I am going to make all my garden edges neat and tidy. Thank you, Switzerland, for encouraging me to be better groomed, garden-wise. This morning I'm going to start Swiss-gardening down my driveway.
Thursday 19th June
From what I've seen from my swooping helicopter, or just cycling madly along the semi-rural roads, Switzerland has no junk left lying around. There are no old abandoned tractors or farm machinery. There is no evidence of anything having been jettisoned, to be picked up or sorted through later.
Neatly Trimmed Edges
All of Switzerland's edges are neatly trimmed. The wood piles are rectangular, and covered symmetrically with neat tarpaulins.
In contrast, there are plenty of random, eccentric wood piles down my driveway. And piles of ill-assorted rubbish. And jettisoned junk. And my edges are definitely blurred. Wonder how I'll get on. Oh well - I will do my best, and reward myself later with more immersion in the impeccable Swiss scenery.
Six Hours Later...
It's been fun trying to tidy up the edges of the driveway. I've cleared the path through the Frisbee Corner Garden, slicing off self-sown forget-me-nots and laying them on the nearby bare soil. Now the path is heavily mulched. I've started weeding along the drive, transplanting anything which is useful (clumps of yellow annual daisies, for example). All the weeds get heaved over next-door, and then I dump loads of wet ash (I'm clearing out the bonfire) on them. The ground between ours and the neighbour's driveway is still messy and uneven.
Starting to Tidy the Driveway
Next-door's lady wandered past at one stage. She, a rather vacant non-gardener, chirped out helpfully that I was being 'ambitious'. Bah! I potter around, I try my best, I enjoy myself, I love my garden - absolutely nothing to do with ambition. If I was ambitious I'd get Non-Gardening Partner to erect a tall fence to block out all their mess from my view. It's soooooo ugly! Broken gum trees still straddle their water race, and there are random huge piles of pine mess and tree roots everywhere. In Switzerland I reckon they'd be thrown off the land and over the nearest border, hee hee.
I had an unexpected surprise over lunchtime. I went around to my plantsman-collector friend's house with some new pet meat for his cat to taste-test, and he invited me around his garden. I saw some beautiful double hellebores and double primroses, and the grooviest variegated 'hedgehog holly', amongst thousands of other treasures in his plant collections. His dark blood-red Takanini Camellia (I've got three juveniles) is flowering already. He has probably a hundred Camellias dotted around the place - most are planted in the ground. And fifty Hollies. And... Just amazing.
And I only went in to see the modest little Cyclamen coums! Dear little things. He said that their seeds are spread by ants. Weird. I told him I was trying to 'Swiss up' my garden - he mentioned the phrase 'prissy gardening'.
Right. Time to do some more TV couch-cycling. I'm in the north, making for Ossingen? Not sure. Loving it, though...
Friday 20th June
Some might think I am a bit mad. Don't you dare nod your head! Earlier this morning my friend and I popped into the Charity Shop. I am hoping to find and rescue the gnome of my dreams, whilst she is still searching for a swimming costume that will - ahem - fit her properly.
The Foxglove Fairy
I've never had much to do with fairies. Well, we found two reprint copies of Cicely Mary Barker's fairy poems with illustrations. I've never, ever seen these before. All the fairies (seventy-five of them) are flower folk. The water-colour prints are absolutely beautiful. Naturally we each bought a book. Two sentimental old ladies : 'Who's your favourite? The Scabious fairy. Who's yours? The Foxglove elf...'
I am pleased to report that my Swiss inspiration has lasted another day. All afternoon I neatly stacked firewood, cleared edges, weeded, and spread mulch down the driveway garden. I bought a fancy Cordyline hybrid (Wal's Goldfinger) for a big blue pot, placing it at the beginning of the Frisbee Lawn path, and some Cistus shrubs to fill in the gaps. It's the shortest day tomorrow, and by sunset (five o'clock) I was still going strong.
I'm so proud that I didn't let the general moistness of winter seduce me into buying and trying Camellias etc. This garden is super sunny in winter, let alone high summer, and a Leyland shelter belt is rather close by. Any shrubs of substance would be fried and starved within a year. But Cistus should cope.
I have two Cistus Sunsets (pink) and two Cistus Bennetts Whites. Rosemary and that pretty silver Convolvulus cneorum would possibly be other suitable candidates.
Wals Goldfinger Cordyline
Actually, I love my garden when it's neater and tidier. Hmm...