The neglected garden . . . is there any chance of redemption?

. . . or has nature taken over the plot all by itself, to the despair of the gardener?

From the very start of our sojourn up in the hills, I wanted to develop a garden that, when mature, would require very little upkeep, but that would still, recognisably, be a kept garden, and not a wilderness. It was easy in the earlier days: just mow the field and hope, with perseverance, to get a nice grassy sward. But then we began to divide it up into little components.

And the little sections do work, as planned, only each of them, so far, take an impressive amount of work to keep tidy: the soft fruit sections; the erstwhile cold frame that became our courgette/marrow patch; the outdoor herb section; the hedgerows in various stages of growth; to say nothing of the six separate polytunnel beds, and the overflowing compost heaps. So the work load has expanded kind of exponentially. Over the past year of the head gardener’s dwindling good health, the garden has been neglected, and the various sections are getting straggly and unkempt. Looking out and over the place during the Easter break (our delight with the planted potatoes notwithstanding) I was not sure that the garden could ever be redeemed, or whether it might have all gone too far to recover.

And if it were a large, open area, I’m pretty sure our gardening morale would be sunk. As it is, we like to chivvy ourselves along with the thought that ‘we’ll just tackle this little bit today, and see how that works out. ‘ Maybe we can get to another little bit tomorrow.

If the first little bit looks better, after our labours, then our spirits are lifted too, and we can smile to ourselves, as we gaze out over the valley. In the same way, the perennial asparagus bed (situated in a conveniently raised section at the southern end of the polytunnel) brings a chortle of delight as new spears poke their way through the soil, and are sliced clean and on dinner plates with scarcely a smidgeon of effort. With that bed working, we can think about the salad bed, and then we can move on to the annual herb bed, and say, why don’t we think about raising the other half of the polytunnel space, to spare our backs, and before you know it, a new project to redeem the wild and virtually abandoned polytunnel has begun.

It’s always just a little bit of work, these days, before we have to rest, and to be honest, it looks like this coming week will be a professional job, mostly, with clear plantable spaces ready for both seeds and seedlings, by next weekend. But even embarking on such a project requires just that little bit of hope that we might could redeem the garden again this year.

Redemption, after all, may be only one little bit of gardening effort away.

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