St Patrick’s Day traditionally marks the start of the gardening season here, just a couple of days after the erstwhile Ides of March (15th, was an old Roman religious festival and this year coincides with Mother’s Day). It’s still February, so there’s more talk being done about the garden than actual graft. The camellia is valiantly pushing out blooms, but the daffs, hyacinths and grape hyacinths are being laggardly.
But mustn’t grumble, eh? Inherited assets include a six-foot deep and high laurel hedge that shields us from the bulk of the dust and grime from the busy road we’re on. Mixed into it is a fuchsia Daddy slipped and left in the new planting as it’s pure Kerry stock (from a roadside ditch) that’s got a matching successful slip (at well over 10-ft high, it’s a tree now), out the back. For the past couple of years I was equally admiring and sentimental about the understory along Kerry roadsides: the grassy foliage and delicate orange flowers of the crocosmia. But now that it’s overtaken the parsley and mint in one of the front beds, half the short orange stuff has to come out.
At the time the wooden elements (one table platform and another table, the gate to hide the boiler and the one to shield the new kerria and its companion shrubs, the pagoda-style fence to join the front wall to the driveway, and the semi-circular beds) were being put in, I wasn’t thinking things through properly. Forgetting that it would be me, moi, mé féin, now doing the needful (I hadn’t met Himself then) of cutting the lawn, trimming that magnificent laurel hedge and tackling the pyracantha and fuchsia blobs in it, chasing down the dandelions, nasturtium (I no longer care about it’s Victorian symbolism of I vanquish my enemies: on a good day it’s a salad dressing, on a bad day it’s a pernicious weed), not to mention the ash tree seedlings that fall in from across the road. Nope, I wasn’t thinking about any of that when I dug up the grass/moss/buttercup ‘lawn’, covered it in Mypex and gravel and swapped one set of time-consuming chores for a much worse set.
The previous owners had spent over 40 years cutting that lawn, chasing those weeds, trying to keep the color in the flower beds only and had given up entirely on growing their own food. The town was less than five minutes’ walk away. Loadsa carrots. Gazillions of spuds. More parsley, mint, coriander and chives than you could need in 20 lifetimes was being grown in the market garden of Ireland that surrounded us. But I being young and foolish….okay, so just foolish…. thought gravel needed less attention than grass, and that the rest of the stuff I was doing would somehow look after itself. Oh yes, the previous owners are grinning over their vodka cocktail and pint of stout now.
It’s still February, so there’s more talk being done about it than actual graft. So I’ll shut up here now, and go talk about it some more with just Himself.