Where has the year gone? I can’t believe it’s October already and the time has come to plant spring bulbs, mow the lawn for the last time this season and generally put the garden to bed. Having said that, there’s still plenty of colour – magenta and orange dahlias, plumbago, Michaelmas daisies and a few late flowering roses.
A few days ago, we went to visit Christopher Lloyd’s garden at Great Dixter in East Sussex. The garden was created during the early part of the last century and was steadily built up over the succeeding decades, a true labour of love. It really is magnificent at this time of year – the proverbial riot of colour – and we spent a very happy couple of hours admiring it. The exotic garden, replete with banana plants, clematis, cannas and purple verbena bonariensis, was my particular favourite. Afterwards, we strolled around the nursery, and I couldn’t help indulging myself with a few acquisitions for my own small plot.
I find the garden a great source of consolation amid the stresses and anxieties of daily life. When my writing isn’t going too well, it’s wonderful to be able to step outside with a cup of coffee for a five minute break. Very often, I find myself stopping to do a little bit of pruning or weeding and before you know it, an hour has passed. Although we live at the edge of the city, we have a multitude of birds that visit us and their songs give a profound sense that the natural world is near at hand, and that I too am part of it.
When I was growing up, on Friday nights my mother would always make a point of stopping whatever she was doing and sitting down on the sofa in time for Gardeners’ World. It’s definitely from her that I get my love of all things green. Moreover, gardening has given us a life-long common interest.
As a youngster, I used to think Gardeners’ World was painfully old-fashioned and uncool, but now I find I’m an increasingly avid convert. There’s something timeless and comforting about Gardeners’ World. It’s a place where you can easily convince yourself that nothing truly terrible could ever happen. It’s always gentle and unhurried, a real bastion of civility with its knowledgeable experts and self-deprecating presenters. It’s deeply redolent of English country life at its best – enduring, tranquil and essentially good.