The Big Move
Simmonds has watched her small city garden take off
over the last four years, but now she's off to the country.
What's it like to say goodbye?
This is the last week in my flat, where I have lived
for four years, and my long, thin garden, the first
I've had. It's been a haven from the busy shops and
roads nearby, though the London reality of a haven is
probably different from elsewhere - kebab aromas mingle
nuts, bolts and small car parts keep turning up in the
soil, and cats race through, knocking down pots.
At the far end of the 50-ft long, walled garden are
two plums, two apples and a pear tree
- all covered with blossom in spring, and fruit erratically
in autumn. Shade-loving plants eke out an existence
under the trees - hardy
dominate, and some ferns grow slowly in the dry soil.
heap is here, too.
Nearer to the house
is an area of lawn
fringed by borders - the less unkempt, sunnier area.
In the past year, it has started to look more established,
bulking out, and the climbers
growing more vigorously and starting to flower more
freely. A fig tree and grape vine were already here
when I arrived, and they are thriving, making lush,
rampant growth all summer. The grapes never ripen, but
there are quite a few figs, if the two resident blackbirds
don't get to them first. Before I go, I'm trying to
tidy it up for the winter so that the new occupants
won't have too much to do. It's difficult cutting back
perennials in September, when they have hardly started
I love the familiarity of this garden, the fact that
I have come to know more or less what to do when, what
happens when you leave things to chance, and exactly
what the slugs round here like. The process of moving
plants around until they thrive has helped me learn
about their habitats, and about my garden. I feel slightly
irresponsible, going off and leaving the garden now,
and sad at the thought of missing next spring here -
the garden's often a bit soggy over the winter, though
sitting with a mug of tea on the bench on a cold clear
morning can't be beaten.
The garden I'm going to, with my partner Guy and cat
Oscar, is a fairly large and established one in Devon
- a 'proper' garden, and a bit daunting with unfamiliar
plants and weather to match, not to mention the resident
wildlife. We're garden-sitting for six months and it'll
be a different sort of gardening since we've agreed
to rebuild the patio and think about how to screen the
gas tank. It's going to be a steep learning curve again.
See also the Helping Hands workshops:
a fruit tree
a decking tile patio
reprinted with premission from Greenfingers.com