Upon moving to England I quickly discovered why gardening is such a big deal here. Everything grows. Or rather everything that I don’t mess with. I’ve never had a garden before and I confess I’ve got a bit of a black thumb. I once proudly told my colleagues I’d spent part of the weekend pruning the Hebes and was promptly told, ‘ooooh, they don’t like that’. Which as it turns out they don’t, and I ended up with three dead ones.
I now think of myself as a ‘Darwinian’ gardener: if it lives, it can stay. If it dies, it gets replaced with something else. That said the English climate does rule and within a couple of years of moving into my house I found the gardens had turned into a scene from ‘Day of the Triffids’. Photos I took when I moved in revealed that you could actually see the house from the street. Not anymore: all you can see now is overgrown Fosythia, lilac and dogwood. What you can see of the lawn is a mess of creeping buttercups (not as nice as they sound, I assure you) and dandelions. The neighbour’s clematis has on more than one occasion tried to pull down the bathroom wall. And no matter how much I chop the stupid pyracantha it continues to send out thorny shoots.
I finally decided to try to tackle these once lovely thickets, and bought a couple of gardening books. I’ve now managed to tame the spiraea in the back garden. I have a handle on my many roses, except the one in the front that has a stem which keeps falling over, and for which one day the postman will probably cut me off. Every year I’m surprised by the appearance of something I hadn’t noticed, and last year’s surprises included a hibiscus shrub.
Clearly I need some way of organising all of this, and today’s parcel is just the thing. The pages of this spiral bound notebook are interspersed with pages about herb gardening, which will be especially useful when I have to tackle the herb box in the backyard. I have a ‘home book’ where I keep window measurements, drawings for projects, lists of floorboard lengths and other sundries. And now I have a ‘garden book’ where I can keep all the details of what I need to do to manage the outside of my house too!