Over the past couple of weeks I have spent an awful lot of hours in the garden, weeding, planting and filling it with future delights. Not my garden, I hasten to add… mine is both very green and very untidy, having been invaded by the homeless house sparrows who used to live in next door’s ivy. When the rampant robe was removed last autumn, the colony was obliged to seek alternative accommodation and apparently my honeysuckle hedge was ideal.
Now this is all very well, and I am delighted to have them… and Ani, of course, finds them a constant source of joy to stalk and bounce at. They tease her, she bounces… they tease her some more. The only trouble is that now they have nests in my honeysuckle, the climbing roses there are ten feet high and I daren’t disturb the birds and their eggs to cut the lot back. My garden, therefore, will have to wait and I will simply watch the fledglings grow instead of flowers this spring.
Not that I am short of flowers. A wander round my son’s garden in the early morning sun is beauty enough as it bursts into exuberance. Splashes of light and colour vie with each other for prominence. This is no formal planting… the garden itself is all angles and ordered lines, built to be a haven, wholly accessible to my son, even back then when there seemed little hope of him getting around it on his own two feet without support. Oddly, it was the garden that drew him to try and I will not easily forget going down one morning to find he had taken himself down to the far end of the garden to sunbathe…
So the planting is as informal as I can get it, with rambling roses spilling through the beds and swathes of flowers festooning the squared edges of the pond. At this time of year, however, it is the smaller plants that come into their own, each flower a geometric miracle of nature, brought to glowing life by the iridescence of beetles, the buzzing of insects and the fairy wings of butterflies.
In two of the beds are bird feeders, each one better stocked than my larder, though I am not partial to mealworms myself, the robins that are nesting there do seem to appreciate them and have become both fearless and inquisitive as we spend time in the garden.
A wren is a regular visitor, the starlings come in every few minutes, and over the course of the day there seems to be every variety of finch in the area, along with the thrushes, blackbirds and the resident pigeons.
My son is fortunate in the location of his home. When he was looking for a place to buy the address would have put him off immediately…one of those streets that seem to acquire a bad reputation … but the dilapidated bungalow had too many possibilities not to at least give it a look. The place was in need of gutting and almost starting from scratch to make it fit his needs, and the garden seemed a dank, dark place.
On the other hand, five minutes from the centre of town, the house stands behind the other houses on the road, so far back that few would know it was there and surrounded by the canopies of trees filled with song. The street itself is a long one and at this end is filled with small, cottagey homes and good neighbours.
Eight months of work, all day, every day, and the place was transformed, inside and out, to the ideal bachelor pad with every imaginable bit of technology and a low maintenance, accessible garden filled with light, life and perfume.
Four years on and the wood has mellowed, the roses and bushes have grown and gaps had appeared in the planting. You have no idea how many plants you can carry in one small car till you have been shopping with my son. Now, however, as he plants his garden and feeds his birds, my son can see spring come to life as the seasons turn and look out on an urban oasis of colour and light.
This morning the buds on the fremontedenron look almost ready to burst, there are buds on the roses growing over the fence and the clematis will soon be a riot of pink festooning the trellis. The yellow bells of the sophora form a backdrop to the smiling pansies and gaiety of the newly planted dahliettas… and the sun is shining.Spring has definitely sprung 🙂