Obsessions of a gardener

There are two obsessions that gardening induces; firstly the weather and most importantly your own garden taking over your thoughts and dreams.

The weather

Is it too cold, is the ground frozen or even warming up? Is it too wet, or too dry? Is it the right time to plant?

If you’re anything like me you’re obsessed with the weather. Getting a daily weather fix at the end of the news or watching Countryfile for the weekly weather forecast, it’s a British concern. Combine that with my other obsession of cricket and I’m halfway to becoming a fully-fledged amateur meteorologist.

Just 17 days ago this was the scene in my garden. Some daffodils always pop up early, but seem to survive quite happily.

  

On 10th February I was out hedgelaying on what was predicted to be a miserably cold and wet day, but it was warm and sunny!

Last weekend I went for a cycle ride and took some pictures of these lovely bulbs in beautiful sunny conditions near Salisbury Plain.

The weather does affect our gardening, but also our mood. Half the time I’m hoping it will rain so the borders are easier to dig and prepare or the vegetables and flowers will be happy. The other half of the time I’m hoping the rain will stop so I can mow the lawn or play cricket in the summer.

Due to milder winters our roses are still flowering in December, and as I said daffodils are coming out in January – it’s a real change from 30 years ago and having a temperature gauge in your car only adds to the obsession.

“It was 12 degrees C today when I was in the car” I remarked to my wife last weekend.

But milder winters as a general trend have increased the number of pests; from beetles, bugs, mites and fungi to name but a few. But don’t start growing exotics in your garden just yet; all of a sudden they can be killed off with a severe frost.

Last year only exacerbated the weather obsession; the Beast for the East (this time last year; end of February to the beginning of March) followed by the hottest summer on record in England.

Obsessive mulching helped last summer and having a clay topping on top of limestone did help a little. Mulch increases organic matter, retains moisture and represses weeds. Climate change and water use is going to become a major issue in the future and the RHS recommends gardeners provide “as much greenery as possible”, suggesting planting hedges instead of fencing and planting trees.

 

Your garden – 9 signs that you’re obsessed with it

1. A few spots of rain won’t stop you getting out into your garden, but if it pours there’s always a good gardening book.

2. On hot sunny days your plants are your priority – each day last summer my wife was out watering the tubs, the vegetable patch, the borders and so on.

3. You know all the micro-climates of your garden – where it’s mostly shady, what’s full of sunlight all day long and the patches in the borders that are naturally drier or wetter. And you know what? You know which plants grow best in which place.

4. You know what you’ll be planting for each season and plan meticulously. My wife has a hundred pages of A4 on all the plants we have ever grown, moved or jettisoned from our garden, their Latin names and what they preferred or didn’t. That’s definitely obsession!

5. We all have our favourite tools; I have a spade that feels just right – the optimum size, weight and feel. I always try to go out into the garden with my favourite secateurs – I almost always need them.

6. When I visit my mother’s garden I admire everything in it, after all that’s where the obsession came from, and also what I grew up with. When I visit friends’ gardens I’m always sneakily judging them; the choice of plants, the colour schemes, the layout, the structure and so on – it all goes into the compendium of gardening thoughts.

7. You love browsing a website that seems to have everything you want, it makes your mouth water with plans, planting schemes and dreams of amazing flowers, trees, hedges, fruit trees, climbers and my favourite roses and much more besides. It simply makes you want to get your credit or debit card out and spend – it’s not a cost, it’s an essential investment in your garden!

8. If you’re like me you hate slugs and snails, but you’re also rather obsessed with pulling out weeds, even in other people’s gardens! 'One year of seeds, seven years of weeds'.

9. Happiness is not only being in your garden, but when others compliment your garden it soothes your soul and they instantly become your new best friend.

 

Happy Obsessive Gardening

Mark

 

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