The Gardening Bug...
My novel Gardens of Delight revolves around a group of people who are members of a garden club, and I wrote it at a time when I was just acquiring the gardening bug. Since then, I’ve moved house several times and with each new house I’ve thrown myself into creating a new garden. At the beginning of my gardening voyage, I enlisted the help of professional designers, but where I live now, and having learnt a thing or two over the years, I took on the challenge myself. I deliberately chose a house with a medium sized garden which I would be able to keep on top of on my own as I know from experience, the more of the garden I hand over to a gardener, the less I love it. There’s a real sense of joyful satisfaction for me in looking at what I’ve created and thinking, ‘I did that!’
In common with most gardeners, I find it almost impossible to sit still for very long in the garden. Even if I’m thoroughly absorbed in a book I’m reading, I’ll glance up and spot a weed that needs pulling out, or a plant that should be deadheaded there and then in the pursuit of perfection. Of course, there’s no such thing as a perfect border for me, there is always room for improvement, a better plant, or a plant moved to better location. We all know that striving for perfection is a fool’s game, but we gardeners are stubborn and determined folk and will never stop trying to achieve the ultimate border. I have one area of the garden which every summer I look at it and shake my head because no matter what I do, it never quite hits the spot for me. Then just as I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and dig up all the plants and start again with it, it suddenly doesn’t look so bad after all.
I’m often asked if I have a favourite plant and my answer is always the same, I absolutely love hydrangeas. I grow most of mine in pots, in fact the courtyard area of my garden is full of these treasured gems. They’re very demanding divas though and require my full attention, which means watering them almost every day during the summer and feeding them regularly. But the effort is so worthwhile as these beauties flower from early July right through to October, their colours changing as the months go by. No garden should be without at least one hydrangea in my opinion. The same goes for roses, acers and hostas; they should all be given room.
I used to hold some ridiculous views when it came to the colour of flowers in my garden. I would only tolerate a colour palate that consisted of pinks, blues, mauves and a soft touch of yellow. Anything of a red or orange hue was banned! But how times have changed for me, now I love a flash of brilliant orange in the border or the pots, in fact, bring it on! I have yet to embrace the colour red with as much enthusiasm, but one or two very dark red flowering plants have snuck into my garden. Give it time and the colour will probably be centre stage!
That’s the beauty of gardening, nothing stays the same, nor should it. A garden should be constantly evolving, thereby providing endless challenges, satisfaction and pleasure. For me it taps into my deep-seated need to control, which might sound a bit ominous, but I love nothing better than creating order out of chaos and frankly, I have yet to discover anything that quenches that desire quite so effectively.