I am banning the word 'disheartened' from my garden journal ramblings. This word describes how I sometimes feel. It is a word to be fought off, and if possible knocked out, by lots of well-organised hard work. No garden should make its gardener feel disheartened. Nor should gardening magazines and books.
Some days it's a seasonal issue. My mid-summer garden gets scruffy, and nothing stays particularly tidy for long. The gum leaves drop everywhere - on the borders and lawns. I'm always behind with the watering.
This morning over breakfast I made the mistake of flicking through a glossy Penelope Hobhouse gardening book. Lawns - immaculate, not a summer leaf that wasn't attached to a tree. Everything was beautifully trimmed. In my garden everything needs trimming. And the lawns need mowing, but first I need to gather up the larger pieces of gum bark, and the Cordyline leaves, and...
The perfect Daylily
Some days it's the gracefully aging body. My latest trick (to help the knees and hips) is to use a fancy kneeler. It's certainly comfortable, but getting in and out of the middle of a border for a weeding session takes ages. Better than continually bobbing up and down like an ostrich, I guess.
And some days I just see too many things all at once. So there is too to do, and I would need at least one under-gardener, or a totally compliant Non-Gardening Partner, to make the grade on such a day. And I love multi-tasking. I am a compulsive multi-tasker, which means that nothing is finished. But the doing and finishing of everything, all at once, is so easily imagined!
Well, that d-word is simply not allowed, either in my over-analytical head-thoughts, or in my journal. Gardening must always be heartening. If it truly was the other, the antonym, the unmentionable, then I jolly well wouldn't do it. I'd get all my wonderful big trees chopped down, lay weed-mat and heavy bark chips and concrete everywhere, and buy heaps of huge plastic pot plants, which wouldn't need watering.
Reality Photograph of a Garden Border
OK. I'm off to shift the hoses, and dig a neat edge around the gum trees in the front lawn. I can pick up another wheelbarrowful of bark from the lawn, dead-head some more roses, and trim some more Lychnis. I love Lychnis when it flowers. So there!
Something has been damming the water race underneath Willow Bridge's giant Gunnera clump - the roaring water sounds like a waterfall. I've removed a sodden tree branch, jammed between the edges, with just a few superficial scratches (from the spiky Gunnera leaves). What an extremely positive day - yeay for me! I did a lot of good gardening and a lot of good thinking. Here's what I can do to avoid feeling 'disheartened'. Firstly, affirm that all I can do is my very best. There's only me, I'm small, and my garden is big (and windy).
Reality Photograph of a Fenceline
Secondly, take no notice of Penelope Hobhouse's photographs. These picture-perfect gardens are professionally dressed and made-up. Thirdly, enjoy my gardening each day, whatever great or little amount I manage to do. Be strong, and proud! Each day, celebrate the plants, flowers, trees, and views that I love so much. And the roses!
I have thought of a fourth thing - namely to get Non-Gardening Partner to help me more with garden and lawn maintenance - the raking of the Eucalyptus leaves and bark, weed control on the driveway, and so on. Then my time could be spent on more creative, satisfying things. Hmm...
I'm never going to be over-awed by Penelope Hobhouse again. And I'm sure that wasn't her intention, anyway. The thing is : no-one puts messy, weedy garden photographs in glossy books. They would be far too close to reality.
Buster the Cat
So far today I've done two hours cosmetic weeding in the house gardens, supervised by Buster the cat. I can see the difference - yeay! And I've raked the driveway leaves into discrete piles, all ready for someone (probably me) to scoop into the barrow and dump. Suggested to NGP this might be one of his ongoing jobs. 'No point doing that - more will blow down'. Hmm.
Now I'm off to weed by the clothes line. The yellow Banksia (recently chopped down to its rather sturdy ankles) is re-sprouting. Sweet thing! But it will needs a support (Banksia Mark 1 brought down the old plum tree), so I'm off to find some new fence wood. Then (surely) I can dislodge NGP from his newspaper chair. Blokes like a bit of hammering, don't they?
And Much, Much Later...
Well, after six pleasant, positive hours in the garden the cloud cover melted away, uncovering the sun. And so the temperature soared to thirty-one degrees Celsius (that's hot hot for us). While the garden wilted in shock, NGP and I (sensibly) went for a swim. Graceful exercise for the gracefully aging, hee hee. Totally heartening!