How gardening friends can solve your problems….
Gardeners and cake are a good combination. Gardeners, cake and a difficult spot in the garden are a brilliant combination. Last Sunday I hosted some gardening friends to coffee, plied them with carrot cake, then led them to what I refer to as ‘The Bed of Despair.’
The Bed of Despair is the south-facing wall of my garden. It is out of view of the house – possibly why I have been unable to focus on it, both literally and psychologically. At the moment it has a sundial as a focal point, with row of fruit trees: quince, crab apple, apple, Turkish hazelnut (what was I thinking?) and an ornamental cherry. Beneath them, a mass of self-seeded herbs (parsley, fennel, mint) are running rampant, along with other self-seeders, such as cosmos and buplearum (and weeds). It can look delightful. Mainly it looks a mess.
I just don’t have a vision for it, which is why it’s a muddle, so the challenge was to see if anyone else could come up with one. Firstly, everyone took a turn on the bucket to check out my neighbour’s garden (real gardeners think of a wall as a challenge rather than a boundary). Then they came up with three suggestions.
Tip 1: Amicia Oldfield, owner of the lovely Doddington Place spotted that a row of trees doesn’t offer a proper focal point – ‘your eye doesn’t know where to stop.’ She suggested making more of the sundial by raising it higher, then taking out the trees except for the two on either side of it.
Tip 2: Fern Alder, who started the front garden initiative, Full Frontal, said that ‘repetition’ is always important in gardening. We discussed this for a while, and decided that the two trees on either side of the sundial should be the same, not a crab apple and an apple as they are at the moment.
Tip 3: Posy Gentles, gardener and writer, said that I should let the parsley and fennel take over the rest of the bed, for a lovely frothy, abundant look, which would also be the easiest option. It keeps it simple, but relaxed (and follows Fern’s ‘repetition’ rule). I had felt that, because the wall is south-facing, I ought to do something splendid with it. In fact, I can just make more of what’s there already. Less is more, as they say. But all suggestions are still being gratefully received – so do let me know what you think.