Posted on | July 13, 2012 | 8 Comments
It’s been a very hectic week here at the Exotic Garden with back to back coach parties which are always enjoyable for me as I am able to see the garden through visitor’s eyes afresh. When I’m on my own though, all I tend to see are weeds and jobs that need doing!
When coach party’s arrive I always give them a short talk on the history of the garden and this week was no exception, though this time I could add the fact that I have now lived here for thirty years this this week. Something to celebrate though I am now twice the age I was when I bought the garden. I say ‘garden ‘as the house was very much secondary to me as it could have been a caravan! The garden has certainly matured over the last three decades, but thankfully it hasn’t turned grey like me, but is maturing gracefully, as only time can turn saplings into trees and a small pot of bamboo into a massive jungle of stems many meters across.
In July 1982 the garden was completely overgrown with a thicket of thorny brambles and countless sycamore saplings, as the garden hadn’t been tended for at least a decade. There were a few very narrow, barely trodden pathways around the garden flanked by a sea of the ‘Blue Borage’ Borago officinalis. Here and there from a past garden were towering clumps of bright yellow Solidago ‘Goldenrod’. The garden even had a dozen or so Rose bushes that were very gnarled and well past their sell by date. The only remaining garden structure was an old rusty metal pergola that could barely be seen as it was in a twisted heap on the ground covered in nettles and bindweed. The original wild garden also had its’ fair share of rusty objects like and old tin bath and a decaying bicycle amongst other decaying objects. I must admit, the garden in its unkempt state did look rather beautiful, but of course the urge to tame nature was overwhelming though I do miss its original wildness, a condition that only a neglected garden can have.
I am constantly asked if I had a plan or vision for the garden, but no, it organically grew as the years passed with occasional quick burst of energy producing the many features that are now in the garden such as the tree house built some ten years ago in an old Oak tree. I have been very lucky over the years as so many people have been caught up in my enthusiasm for construction, as many friends wanted to become involved in my projects and of course a very big thank you to all those who have helped to make the garden what it has become over the last thirty years..
Despite the fact that it has rained virtually every day over the last month or so, most of the gardens visitors have only been bothered by the lightest of rain showers.
Thanks to the new tropical Polly-tunnel, no one needs to get wet if it rains! The resent temperatures may not have been that warm, but to me it has never the less felt very pleasant – I hate gardening in hot sticky weather anyway!
After a very slow start in the garden most plants are now growing well, apart from such tropical’s as the Canna’s and Colocasia’s which have never been as short as they are this year. I looked at some photographs I took of the garden at this time last year and see that the garden is still a good three weeks or so behind in growth for the tender perennials planted out in later May, but all the permanent planting such as the many hardy gingers are enormous and very lush indeed with all the heavy rain. Oh well – that’s the joy of gardening, we have to cope with whatever our climate throws at us.
Most people ‘especially non gardeners’ probably dislike grey days, but in a way I rather like them. After all, they are typically British! Often the greyness changes from pale grey to rather dark, ominous grey which gives a moody feel to the garden and as long as it’s not actually cold I rather enjoy the sultry atmosphere it creates.
A short while ago there was yet another torrential rainstorm rattling on my studio roof, though this time with hail. All my cats were lined up at the window behind my computer fascinated by the clattering noise the hail was making. But now the sun has come out again in all its glory wrapped in a deep blue sky and the garden is steaming like a tropical jungle! I think a cup of tea and a stroll round the garden is calling.
At the beginning of this article I mentioned weeding, a perennial chore for us gardeners and of course the rain deluge of late has made them all grow like mad – even the soil surface has gone green this year as it rarely gets a chance to dry out which is quite amazing as the garden is a very well drained sand loam! Although I try and keep them down, there are always one or two weeds that get away and I see them popping up behind other garden plants pretending that I haven’t seen them, having quietly grown to three feet or more tall!
Last year, the bamboo garden now in its twelfth year, was suffering from drought with the tell tail sign of their leaves rolling into tubes to preserve moisture loss, while this year the new culms (canes) are towering above the old ones, enjoying the summer monsoon like conditions.
I was asked the other day if it upsets me having had such wet and comparatively cool weather this summer, or that we have had a few consecutive cold winters? The answer has to be a resounding – no! Of course, I would like the summer to be mild with rain at night and sunny by day, but alas it seems that the more settled weather conditions of much of the last century are now a thing of the past and our climate over the ‘next’ 30 years or so will probably bring some dramatic changes, so all we can do in our gardens is go with the flow and enjoy our gardens whatever our summers and winters throw at us!
Have an excellent weekend in your garden rain or shine… Ahh – it’s raining again!