Heaven on Earth

When I was small my mum introduced me to the delights of gardening by giving me my very own patch of earth in our back garden. My delight in plants was begun by watching the gangly stems of sunflowers spring up and then produce their brilliant smiley faces, and by watching a tiny miniature rose blossom among the weeds I never quite got round to pulling out. I remember my mother was always there in the background, never interfering but always being on hand to help out or offer advice if asked – pretty much as she was throughout most of my life.

Inevitably as a teenager and student, other priorities took over and growing in scholarly wisdom and knowledge was more important to me for a number of years. Then came marriage and family and thoughts turned to homely things once more.

When we bought our Victorian house many years ago, one of the things that sold the property to me was the garden. Small and surrounded on three sides by wall, it had very f features apart from a path which had been placed, unimaginatively, straight down the middle of the lawn. Here indeed was an opportunity to try about all the plans I had been making in my head whilst reading books and watching television programmes on transforming your garden.

My husband has now given up complaining about the number of gardens he is forced to visit, he knows he is fighting a losing battle. We are fortunate to be only a few miles away from the wonderful Hidcote Manor, with its fabulous herbaceous borders and inspiring planting. We also live near the Cotswolds which means we are only a short drive away from the villages of Stow on the Wold, Chipping Campden and Bourton on the Water, whose cottage gardens are all great sources of ideas and information for a novice gardener like me.

The work at times has been hard but finally I am starting to see the fruits of my labours. The peonies have blossomed, their weighty blush pinks heads bowing to the ground and their wonderful perfume vying with that of the rambling Rosa Albertine to dazzle the senses. Powder blue delphiniums and pastel pink foxgloves rise above the low growing geraniums and campanulas, and the many different varieties of lavender I have planted are a delight even in the winter, when sachets full of their dried flowers perfume my clothes and remind me of the warmth of summer. Now there is plenty of flora in place the wildlife has returned to the garden too. Earth which was barren is now rich and full of earthworms; dragonflies and butterflies bring colour to the air and a variety of different birds are now frequent visitors, coaxed back with regular feelings of nuts and bread scraps.

There is still much to do in my little garden, for the time being however, and while the continued hot weather makes even the easiest of tasks wearisome, I am content to sit in my garden, listening to the birdsong and the pollen-drunken humming of the honey bees.

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