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Friday, 10 August 2012

And it's only been sunny for a day and a half

I know a lot of people love the gardens of stately homes. Many find ideas and make plans for their own gardens whilst exploring the well-tended borders. I tend to wander round them, rolling my eyes. They're not my world.

But the other week we dropped in to Chatsworth - a place for which we still have a great deal of affection - to wander round the gardens on a sunny day. And it was in the sensory garden where I saw a plant that stopped me in my tracks.


You might recognise it, or even have it in your garden. I know I have. It's a gardenius forkus, and it grows where work has started in a garden and then stopped. Just as in my garden, it grew in Chatsworth next to a half-buried plastic trug containing a handful of weeds.

It is the single most inspiring thing I have ever seen in the garden of a stately home. Manicured lawns, weed-free beds, plants untouched by a single slug - you can keep them. What I can manage is a half-finished task; abandoned because of rain or idleness or a child coming home from lunch with its grandmother. When you hear someone saying, 'My garden has got a bit out of hand,' I take it to a whole new level. For example, today I trimmed my overgrown flowerbeds with an electric hedgecutter.

So here's to imperfection in the garden - to weeds, to rot, to perennials so wild you have to push them out of the way at shoulder level whilst walking down the path. Here's to bamboo pushing up your coping stones; to a dead frog under a tarpaulin. Here's to nature in all its insanity.


17 comments:

  1. I wish I'd posted the pictures I took today of my overgrown garden. It would have made you feel so much better.

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  2. Now that's a look I can achieve! (The gardenius forkus is my speciality)

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  3. Amen- preach,sister,preach! And bring those electric things over here pronto!

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  4. We were at a National Trust garden recently and saw the same thing - but they had gone one step further and removed the tines of the fork before permanently planting the handle. I'm not quite sure that's the right spirit ...

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  5. Oh yes, with you all the way on this. I can't get into my patch until it has started to die down, it is taller than I am.

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  6. [smile]

    (Back to my weed-covered allotment with its slow worms, sneakily hidden mudpies - splat - and surprise courgettes.)

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  7. slug free gardens always make me profoundly suspicious........

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  8. I hadn't thought of the hedge cutter - I just despair of the 4ft weeds and try to spend as little time out in the garden as possible - it just feels like yet more tidying up and housework!

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  9. I have one of those forks. I am just not sure where it is any more due to the length of the grass.............

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  10. So I am not the only one who controls the garden chaos with power tools? Hallelujah.

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  11. I just baulk at the number of man (woman) hours needed to keep those immaculate gardens so perfect. Our 'lawn' is currently a bit of a wild flower meadow, more clover, moss and dandelions than actual grass. I'd love to think I could keep it all in check, but I'm mindful of the fact that I barely have time to brush my own hair in the mornings, never mind spend several hours a day gardening. Plus, I like the gone-wild look. That's my excuse anyway, and I'm sticking to it.

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  12. I'm laughing at your post! :)

    I have a similar but different permanent feature in my garden, possibly called Bucketus abandonus. It consists of a bucket with a few old weeds in it, filled to the brim with about 4 weeks of rainwater. Smells divine...when I can find it.........

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  13. Oh come into my garden do - you would love it, and next year it is going to be full of thistles - they have all just landed, fairylike and threatening.

    Pomona x

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  14. Hmm, have to disagree with you here. My garden is tidy - I love it because I like plants (too much) but also I love the way that if you tidy a garden it stays tidy at least for a while. Unlike a house, or at any rate a house in which one does anything at all.

    I do also love Chatsworth though it makes me feel a bit sad to think of it because I went there just before Christmas with my beloved Daughter 2 when she was at Sheffield Uni. And I was missing her so much. And now she lives in London with her penniless actor husband and I miss her even more. Ah well.

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  15. See, I am such a non-gardener that I admire you whole-heartedly for getting as far as planting your gardenius forkus. Such zeal and application! Bravo!!

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  16. 'Gardenius Forkus' sounds like the name of a character from the Asterix books.
    I have done zero gardening this year - the terracotta pots in the back yard are full of the dried up remains of last year's plants and/or weeds and, to make matters worse, the cat has taken to using one of the pots as a litter tray. Youngest brought a broad bean plant home from nursery that is now taller than I am, so it hasn't been a complete disaster I suppose!

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