Green Fingers

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.

Roses in my garden

Roses in my garden

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.

The exotic garden at Great Dixter

The exotic garden at Great Dixter

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.

Monty Don - presenter of Gardeners' World

Monty Don – presenter of Gardeners’ World

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.



Filed under gardening

4 responses to “Green Fingers

  1. It’s been wonderful to have such a beautiful September – a real gift. One of the things that resonated with me from your words was the image of spending a few minutes to drink in the garden when things aren’t going as well as you’d wish. My writing space is at the bottom of the garden and just seeing what’s happening in the borders and catching a glimpse of a bird that darting into the undergrowth really brings a new breath of air to my writing too. Looking forward to reading more of your work.

  2. Tom

    We have a small square of lawn to one side of the house and an equally small, but incredibly ‘busy’ garden on the other side. It has a bird table/bath, bird feeding stand and three nesting boxes. Of course over the last 15 – 20 years we’ve learned to increase our plants and flowers, although we’re not really ‘gardeners’ at heart.
    Like you, I have recently wondered what happened to the year. I tend to spend as much time as possible sitting outside with my laptop through the Spring and Summer, but I managed to get out some days towards the middle of September this year.
    I’ve been inspired to write short stories and scenes for my novels just by sitting observing the birds.

    • Hi Tom
      Glad to hear you’ve been enjoying your garden. I agree – I often find that ideas and solutions to story problems creep up on me when I’m weeding! Spent several hours tidying up outside yesterday and am now watching the rain pouring down. Everything will get a good soaking if nothing else. VH

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