I’ve just enjoyed a couple of weeks on holiday. I didn’t go abroad, in fact I didn’t venture far at all – just used my trusty bus pass and took in a few local trips, including several to the capital. That’s Galashiels, of course.
But mostly I just took the time to unwind, savour a few extra hours under the duvet, a bit of late spring cleaning around the house and a long overdue – and I must confess a pretty half-hearted – attempt at tidying the garden.
When I moved in almost a decade-and-a-half ago, the large garden was mostly tidy, but unused. So, after decorating the house throughout, I turned to the garden.
I planted tatties, onions, carrots, lettuce, cauliflower, peas and even garlic. Apart from the caulie, I enjoyed not inconsiderable success in quantity, if not always in quality.
I also took the decision to sow a lawn. I levelled the ground and carefully put down the grass seed.
It grew and I was quite proud of it and kept it in trim. My failing with the garden began when my crops of spuds failed to materialise. The shaws were there – but there was nothing underneath. And it was the same with the onions and the carrots.
I had committed the cardinal error of failing to fertilise. I had sapped the strength and goodness from the soil, but had put nothing back. I was the gardening equivalent of the Grim Reaper. My vegetable plot was no longer. It was returned to nature. Grass sprouted where none had been sown and my thistles would not have been out of place in the procession of emblems at Langholm Common Riding.
With my vegetable-growing interest now a past chapter, I regret the lush lawn, which I had so carefully sown and nurtured, has also returned to Mother Nature. At times you could hide a giraffe in it.
I am not proud of this social lapse – in fact, I’m rather shameful and embarrassed. I have been chastised and, worse, ridiculed.
Each winter, I long for heavy snow that will hide my disgrace and make my garden look as neat and tidy as all those around me.
And during these long winter months, I pledge to myself that, come the early days of spring, I will – I will – make a real effort. I shall tidy and I shall – I shall – fertilise, and I will plant and sow and once more the tatties, the onions, the carrots, the peas and the cauliflower – well perhaps not the caulie – will again flourish.
I will plant flowers. Lovely flowers. All different kinds and colours of flowers.
There will be roses, bright yellow begonia growing to a height of 25cm; chrysanthemums; drooping pink fuchsia; a carpet of purple phlox; ixora bringing a sea of orange to May and June, blooming as broad as they are 200cm high; and there will be lots of cute zephyranthes in white, with their little yellow hearts.
There will be snowdrops to welcome the spring that will herald my re-birth as a green-fingered gardener. I will tidy the lawn or put down slabs. I shall have a shed in which I will potter. And perhaps a wee plastic greenhouse where I will germinate.
Next year I will – but now I long for snow.