Friday, March 03, 2006
MY GARDEN 'FAMILY'
I always get a little worried when Andy says he is going to do some pruning around the place.
At least he has learned to give me some warning and even 'consult.'
You see, Andy mainly prunes with a chainsaw. If something needs cutting back, that is what he does, all over, everything to a uniform size, in case any branch should think it is more important than another. It is definitely a male approach.
We females tend to do it differently. We stand back and look at our plant and consider the situation. We decide which branches are starting to interfere with the overall ambience of the tree. Which branches are looking tired, and need to carry a little less weight. Which branches have become a bit headstrong, and need bringing back to enable us to reach their fruit and flowers. Then we tackle the job, delicately and thoughtfully, first tackling the wayward shoots, and then moving onto the bigger branches. We use the least threatening tools we can find, and would only call in 'our man with the chainsaw' as a last resort to rehabilitate a really rebellious specimen!
It is definitely a female 'nurturing' approach. We develop an emotional relationship with our plants. They remind us of the people who have given us the cuttings, or of past generations who planted them in the first place. Then there are the self-sown ones. They have actually chosen us. How could we be so inhospitable as to reject and uproot them!
There is an old two-room 'outbuilding' just outside our back door. We considered removing it when we restored this house 10 years ago, but the builder persuaded us to keep it. "It is pure 'country' and people would pay thousands to have something like that!" he said. One of the rooms is called "The old laundry" because that is what it was. The other one is called "The Nigel room" after a cat we owned at the time. Why? Well, the room was never anything but a junk/store room, but it needed a name so people knew what we were talking about when we told them where the stepladder was etc. So Edward flippantly suggested the Nigel room, and the name stuck. I might add that Nigel the cat stand out in our minds because of his complete lack of any personality or intelligence, and the poor thing died quite young of an auto-immune disease. Funnily enough, the Nigel room is now the night-time dormitory for Oliver, our Si-rex cat, to stop his wanderings.
Andy will tackle the growth around the Nigel Room and the old laundry. I have agreed, with some reluctance, that the self-sown Loquat tree (already about 8-10 feet) will have to go, as will the self-sown peach tree on the other side. If only they would plant themselves in more convenient spots. The Nandina can take some fairly drastic pruning without taking any offence, but I have urged a little more sensitivity when he tackles the lovely golden hibiscus which was a Golden Wedding Anniversary gift to Bernie's parents nearly 30 years ago. I love its graceful leggy shape.
Outside the Nigel room, the roses are looking a little wild and unkempt. There is one....an unnamed one....that sends up enormous tall shoots, but has only rewarded me with two or three flowers in about 4 years. I will give it one more chance (and probably several more chances after that.) I will not allow the chain saw near the roses. I myself will give them a manicure, a haircut and a gentle makeover, so they can look their best until their next flush of flowers.
Around the base of the roses, the nasturtiums I planted last year look as if they are going to reward me with some more seedlings, for which I am grateful, and the Cape gooseberry will definitely be more productive if we tidy it up a bit.
This just one little corner of the garden, but it is very much part of my familiar environment that I call home. Bernie gets frustrated about my attachment to individual plants...he only sees the big picture in a garden, and believes it should be orderly and showy, and definitely kept under firm control. Green "thumb" has a whole different meaning with men!!
But I will continue to be a cottage gardener, allowing my plant family to express themselves and their own personalities, and rewarding them for the pleasure they have given me by allowing them a permanent home in my garden.