about what we ‘should’ grow in our gardens.
(As if should had anything to do with it!)
Over the last year or so there has been a degree of rigour both sides of the pond
about cherishing ‘the challenging’ in our gardens.
How are we then about hanging onto long dead Auntie Enid’s prize but hideous rose?
Do we cosset the too-tender-for-our-zone and the too-fussy-for-their-own-good?
Early in the year I spotted a seedling in the mulch of a border which looked different and yet somehow familiar. During the Spring and early Summer I weeded carefully round it, watched and waited. I thought I knew what it was and then became absolutely certain.
I was quite stupidly rather elated and a little bit, yes, let’s admit it, sentimental.
I had lost Euphorbia mellifera (to the right in this old snap) in the top corner of the garden one exceedingly tough winter. Despite it being in my best spot. Now, Euphorbia mellifera has the characteristic Euphobia whirl-like arrangement of foliage, yet it is apple green in this species – that I suppose you could get from this and that – but also the honey colour flowers. OK it is not as tough as some. But it had lived there for say 10 years. And I associated it with different times in my life.
And here it was coming up in some compost in the bottom bit of the garden. It would fare even less well here than where its journey had started, given the border’s aspect. And in fact having a ‘dose of the builders’ going on in that area made that quite certain. A place of safety was required and so it was tenderly moved back to its warm wall.
There was, to tell the truth, a little bit of a sense of the prodigal returning to the fold and much joy over it. Call me an old fool if you will. And it will have some winter protection this year at least. It had none in the past.
Plants can carry the great potency of memory. They can be places, people, gifts, times. Plants can contain our own personal story. And no amount of ‘no nonsense’, ‘right plant right place’ practicality is going to tangle with all that maelstrom of mental ‘stuff’.
But in any case, isn’t nurturing a key element of gardening? We do fuss and cherish , yes. And many of us enjoy doing just that. I will admit that I do less of that than in the past, but once a parent always a parent, right? There is also the challenging issue of climatic zones which I have always enjoyed, the sentiment of something from somewhere geographically very different. This entails some detailed grasp of the climatology of your garden. It’s microclimates if you like. It is part of the plantsman’s skill and the grower’s skill.
Now I fully accept that others just want to have their gardening fuss free. They need to know that a star plant will reappear after a hard winter. I respect that and now as a garden designer I mostly need that for my clients. For me, I want to cherish and fuss some things and others ( in fact most others) I want to hold their own. I want it all, therefore. I want my memories, but I want my no-nonsense performers too.
Who am I to dictate? But I think we can fuss and struggle as long as we know that we are doing it – ie it is a choice.
There are, as the saying goes, many roads to Rome…………
Now will our illustrious colleagues be sickly with sentiment or tough as old boots?
Why not click on the links below and find out?