There aren’t many positives to this COVID19 outbreak. But if I were to look for one, I guess I would have to admit that the pandemic has forced me to pay attention to my garden. Yes, yes, we are currently allowed to go out for our one daily walk, but since lockdown began, we (and every other person on the planet who possesses a garden) has realised that since none of us are going on holiday, this is going to be our only outdoor haven for the foreseeable future.
I’m going to tell you right from the get-go that I don’t have green fingers. I never have and never will enjoy gardening. On many occasions I have deliberated with my husband that the best thing for that long meadow out back of our house would be to concrete the whole thing over and just stick a potted plant in each corner and call it a day. But since he’s never been in favour of that ingenious plan, the meadow stays. I’m still going out to work (count yourself lucky if you’re in lockdown being paid 80% of your salary to do absolutely nothing, because some are not), but I do have a couple of free days in my week that didn’t exist before the virus hit. And because of that (and the unseasonably good weather) we have been coerced into addressing the garden once more.
I’m not going to lie to you, before we started work on the garden (most sunny non-work days since lockdown began) it looked a bit like modern-day Chernobyl; a garden a crack-den might be proud of. The thirteen-year-old mouldy trampoline, a swing surrounded by swathes of four-feet-high trifid-like brambles, grass so tall you would probably lose a small child in it. But not so much anymore. Like I say, I’ve been working in the garden A LOT, more than ever before in twenty years of owning this house. My husband was sitting eating dinner at the kitchen table (which looks out onto said garden) the other day, after a hard day’s gardening, and he said, ‘hmmm, but it still looks unbelievably horrible’. I felt that was a tad harsh. I think it was unbelievably horrible before lockdown commenced, now it’s merely horrible. The trampoline is a nightmarish monstrosity of the past, and the swathes of brambles have been hacked back with my trusty scythe (loppers). And I filled an entire big green wheelie bin with roots that I dug up from the (former) flower bed and under the (former) trampoline. The green bin looks like it is filled with mandrakes from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (I didn’t even have to look that reference up – impressed?). My husband and eldest daughter also re-stained the garden benches which were donated to us by my father-in-law (one of which has a plaque inscribed, ‘In Memory of Graham‘ which I really wanted to remove – so I don’t have to keep recounting the depressing story of Graham to enquiring friends just to see their crestfallen faces, but I can’t remove it because it feels disrespectful to Graham – whoever he was*). All in all, the garden has improved immensely, but there’s still a long way to go.
For one thing, all the recycling centres are closed, so I have an unsightly area behind the garden shed hiding all of our crap that needs to be disposed of in 15 car journeys once the tip reopens. I would feel bad for the neighbours who back onto our garden and have to look at it, but I don’t, because they recently put up a completely transparent chain-link fence, so we have no privacy at all. So, sod them, I say – that garden crap is for their eyes only – enjoy! And worse still, you just can’t go to a hardware store or a garden centre anymore. B&Q and the like have about an hour’s waiting list just to get onto the website to virtually ‘look around’. And delivery takes a month at least. So, I fear the unbelievable horribleness may go on for a while.
The worst thing about gardening is that…well…I’m just not cut out for manual labour. No, really – I’ve started to feel truly sorry for people who work outdoors for a living. I’ve broken countless nails, my hands are calloused, I’ve got deep gashes on my legs and arms from venturing into the bramble patch with a rather too Indiana Jones/hung-ho approach, and a few days ago, I strained my right pectoral muscles whilst lifting heavy paving stones. And my husband is STILL nursing a bad back which came on after power-washing the patio and front drive for two days straight. But it seems to have gone on for a fortnight, so I’m doing the lions-share of the work lately. Nope, the outdoor life just isn’t for me. I’m almost glad it’s been raining this weekend, so I get a much-needed break.
However, it’s a work in progress. A labour of love (without the love). I’d like to show you some before and after photos, but because of the unbelievable horribleness of the past garden, I didn’t much feel like photographing it. And now I can’t remember how it looked before, so it doesn’t feel like much of a transformation (see recycling centre and hardware store woes). Still, when I sit outside now (apart from having to look at the annoying neighbours at the back who are also sitting outside), it feels far more pleasant than it did. Oh, and if lockdown is over by summer-proper, we could quite happily host a barbeque for our friends and family without being quite as embarrassed as in former years. I should be proud of myself, but there’s still that cruel whisper in my head that reminds me once winter comes, nature will just have its wicked way with our garden again and destroy most of our hard work. Because nature always wins. Gardening is a thankless task; a task that continually needs doing – that’s why I hate it. Anyway, today (Sunday) is supposed to be a sunny day, so I’m sure I’ll be out there again, cursing as another thorn pierces my gardening glove or ill-suited shoe, groaning as more muscles are pulled. But I won’t be beaten by the great outdoors. Not until October comes around and ruins everything, at least.
*Nope, not telling you the depressing Graham story, okay?
NB: These blogs automatically post to Facebook (or most people wouldn’t even know I’d written a blog). But I’m not using Facebook until the COVID crisis is over – due to the misinformation (and I feel much happier for it). But I do love your comments (which I won’t see on FB), so feel free to leave one here or on Insta (where life is simpler). Thank you. 🙂