The free-flowing style of our garden means that sometimes it looks divine and sometimes it looks a dishevelled mess. But there come precious moments for every garden when they look their very best and all the hard work put into them proves to be worthwhile. At this time of year they still hold the flush of spring growth. The roses are beginning to bloom. And the sunshine makes everything radiate with joy. This is a blessed time indeed.
All horticultural eyes have turned to the annual Chelsea Flower Show this week. The Duke and Duchess have been up in London and no doubt have paid a visit to this esteemed event. I managed to watch a little on the television when I got back from the allotment. The blend of cutting edge technology with naturalistic plantings is fascinating.
Diarmuid Gavin, the naughty boy of garden design, has created a £2 million-plus ‘Garden in the Sky’ with a zeppelin-sized fully planted ‘pod’ raised and lowered by means of a crane catches the eye. A veritable hanging garden. The man has ‘bottle’, have no doubt about that.
But there is no gallivanting around garden shows for me. Back at the ranch the show goes on. The gooseberries always suffer from sawfly and the first batch has just begun to eat away at the leaves. They start on the top leaves and you can see the small green things on the underside of the leaf. It takes a little patience but I have removed most by hand. A week later and I notice that no more damage has been done; perhaps a natural predator has lent a hand. I have no doubt they will be back but at least we have won the battle without resorting to chemicals for a while.
The espalier apple trees that form a spine down the centre of the garden are now wreathed in the Rosa ‘Alchymist’ which was developed by Kordes in 1956 and has yellowy orange flowers.
On Wednesday I am in the middle of the herbaceous border weeding underneath a shrub when I hear footsteps coming down the gravel path. The Duke and Duchess have returned and they have a couple of friends in tow. Whoever they are they look wealthy and important.
I keep my head down and hope they do not notice me. One of the visitors, who looks as if he knows a thing or two about hedge-funds, comments that this is the best looking garden he has seen all week. This is some compliment, considering they have just gotten back from Chelsea.
I try not to move but the Duke has spotted me. He bids me good-day and I am obliged to stand up. I am conscious of how dishevelled I must look, as if I have just gone through a hedge backwards which is what I have just done. The two visitors smile at me and congratulate me on the garden. I mutter something incoherent and look and feel rather stupid.
And then they are gone down the path but as they go the Duchess turns and gives me one of her heavenly and delightful smiles of appreciation.
And I walk back to the stables with my head twice as big as it should be and as tickled pink as if I had won a gold prize at Chelsea!
rosa Alchymist on the espallier apple trees