Love and the Garden


Having caught an old episode of Sex and the City on satellite late one night, my husband joked that I was turning into the Carrie Bradshaw of the gardening world. Although there is no physical resemblance – apart from the fact that we both have blonde hair – By buying and collecting plants in the manner that Carrie does shoes and writing articles about our respective experiences, perhaps she and I, although worlds apart, are more alike than we realise. So to the horror of my husband (who after all was only taking a pop at my shopaholic nature), it began to dawn on me that maybe I ought to take my gardening persona a little more seriously and try and look the part.
Lucy's Garden Rigger Boots
So today I invested in a pair of Riggers. My mentor would be so proud. The Jimmy Choo of the safety footwear world and just as uncomfortable to wear (although perhaps a little heavier). To ensure my transformation is complete, my old tatty sweatshirt and jogger bottoms have been replaced by a pair of jeans and a new (to the garden anyway) hoodie – so very de rigueur. It’s about time I take this garden malarkey seriously and look the part!

And so, to tackle and reclaim a lost patch of a friend’s garden (hence my new-found preference for safety boots over my usual flip flops), tug of war with a rampant ivy that has overtaken a tree is swiftly followed by full body combat with fallen tree branches. An assault on a carpet of weeds and brambles follows and not a power tool in sight – girl power!
Three hours later and the transformation is complete, but not just of the garden it seems. A quick glance in the mirror confirms the truth. The job has taken its toll. My face and hands, despite gloves, are smeared with mud in manner of an army sniper’s combat uniform and Worzel Gummidge’s tatty head looks styled by Toni and Guy in comparison to my barnet. It’s not often that I need to brush my hair over the bath to catch the falling debris!

My husband now calls me Twiggy for all the wrong reasons. I understand from Carrie that camouflage is, like my daffodils, so last season. Needless to say Carrie and I have parted company and my jogger bottoms and paint spattered sweatshirt have been re-instated. I have come to the realisation that it’s me or the garden – we can’t both look good.

Lou C

Horsing Around at the Garden Centre

Horsing Around 1 Pots

Another weekend, another trip to the garden centre. After all, life is for living. Not just any garden centre either, no! This is one that has never been visited before (well, by us anyway). There is a palpable sense of expectation and the promise of what is to come creates a frisson of excitement in the car. Well, for two out of three of us that is, for as is often the case my mother is coming along for the ride.

The afternoon visit starts innocently enough with a stop off in the coffee shop. After all, a pre-race meal is always important. But we will not be distracted by these frivolities for long: Once we have sampled their tea and cake, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Now, as my summer bedding has been purchased and planted, I have to play this carefully, so I suggest sharing a trolley all in the name of reducing my husband’s blood pressure. My mother’s reaction (almost imperceptible except to the trained eye) is one of sheer horror but she recovers herself well and agrees to this daring plan.
Horsing Around 2 Planter
My husband, relieved at the thought of any constraints to my potential purchases, needs no further encouragement and is back in a jiffy with the world’s smallest shopping trolley for us to share. Indeed, shopping with him is comparable to hunting with a game keeper.

Mum’s look of horror has been replaced with one of alarm and any concerns over blood pressure now centre on her as she squeaks, “I thought it was larger than that!” Oh dear. I can see she has already calculated the square footage and number of possible plants that could fit inside and I realise I need to act quickly if I’m to capitalise on this scenario.

As my husband pushes the trolley out of the cafe I realise that this is a two-horse race and not only are we under starter’s orders, we’re off! I’m first past the post to the nearest display and the going is good to firm. The first trolley space is claimed with a lavandula. Onto the second and I’m now two furlongs ahead as a parahebe makes its way in. I hear the dismay behind me; “Blimey, she’s got two plants in already and I haven’t even started looking!” This is from mum who’s clearly rattled.
Horsing Around 4 Flowers
And so it’s daughter in front with mother off the pace and bringing up the rear of the field. Daughter is going, past the alpine section and heading for the summer bedding. Mother has bolted to the ceramic pots and is being allowed to settle. In the meantime, daughter has eased up and is soon boxed in behind a Welsh couple discussing the merits of conifer vs box hedging. Champing at the bit, mother has changed course and has soon drawn even with daughter.
Horsing Around 5 Hydrangea
Attention taken by lobelia and begonias, mother has given way and daughter sets a pressured pace, round the herbaceous plants. And now it’s mother trailing behind, two osteospermum languishing forlornly on her side of the trolley and now it’s daughter all the way, crossing the finishing line to the tills, complete with a whole trayful of plants and a shabby chic tin planter (possibly more shabby than chic but half price nonetheless). Trouble is, I’m going to have to wait for her to catch up; we’re sharing a trolley you see!

Lou C

50 Shades of Pink

Seduction. The art of the garden centre. There seems to be a certain magic that unleashes itself as soon as I reach the car park, regardless of whether I am in the market for anything or not – and my bank balance usually suggests that ‘not’ should be my default position.

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Oh What a Night! – Our SleepOut

As an avid gardener and fan of the great outdoors, I am keen to support the National Garden SleepOut event which, whilst promising to be good fun, also supports some worthy charities.

There’s just one little thing I’m lacking: A place to pitch a tent or roll out a sleeping bag. I don’t fancy trying to sleep on our grassy incline (too steep) and we don’t have any other patch that is big enough to pitch a tent so we’re planning to do the next best thing and spend the evening out in the garden, cosied up in our wooden reclining chairs with pillows and blankets until the small hours and retire to the floor of our garden room that opens out onto our patio when our spines tell us we should finally decide to call it a night. If that isn’t until the next morning then so much the better.

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Vertical Limit

Rockery steps

My gardening life has taken a new turn over the past few years. Since moving house I have found myself dipping my (flip-flopped) toe into the realm of extreme sports. Yes, extreme gardening. The preserve of the modern day adrenaline junkie who, handily enough, can get their fix right outside the back door.

After all, who needs base jumping when you can garden on a slope?

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