A Gift from a Flower to a Garden

I was never a practical person. Unlike my brothers or my dad I don’t think I’ve ever made or constructed anything that anyone might find remotely useful except, that is, for a tiny stool that I made during woodwork lessons at school. That’s about it. I’ve never built a wall, hung a door or cut anything to size that might fit neatly with something else. I once thought that flat-pack furniture might be the ultimate panacea for someone as inept at DIY as me. Alas, even this wonder only confirmed my ineptitude. When it comes to gardening I would consider myself to be a mere ‘tidy-upperer’: I cut, I prune, I sweep. So imagine my surprise at my own ambition a year ago when a young couple in my family needed to create some sort of a green area in their otherwise outside small concrete space. I leapt at the chance of trying my best to give them and my newly arrived grandson a little oasis that might bloom in springtime. Somewhere that might make their outside experience reasonably half-decent during the rare yet finer British weather. Typically I dived straight in with full force and gusto, filling the car with bags of soil, bulbs, shrubs, small and large, and all the tools I thought I might need. What happened next would make any serious gardener cringe. The mere fact that the space to be ‘attacked’ was covered over with concrete slabs that couldn’t be removed, for fear of incurring the wrath of the landlord, meant that I simply had to build a flower bed directly onto the surface. The soil was duly emptied into a wooden frame made up of panels that I had also the foresight to bring. My logic was that the roots of any plant would work their way through the soil till they reached the slabs and would then, naturally, head off horizontally. Of course, I still had no idea what was going to happen. Once completed it looked, I thought, not half bad, although I’d forgotten to base the whole project on some kind of plastic sheeting, which might prevent the rain from washing the whole lot away. This haunted me. Was this the Achilles heel? Would these poor people wake one morning to find themselves living on a ‘mud-flat’? Months passed by and from time to time, whenever one of us might be visiting or speaking to the youngsters on the phone, I’d furtively enquire as to the state of the master project. They seemed happy enough, though they’d had to put a little fence around the whole thing to prevent the neighbourhood cats from using it as their communal loo! Imagine my surprise when we visited last week to find that, not only was the whole thing looking green and healthy but, even the more exotic little plants were thriving in this, the oddest of places. Hopefully, next spring, young Noah will have lots of plants to touch and flowers to smell.

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