We were wondering recently, prompted by Susan,  about how to manage walking round the garden and simply enjoying it rather than noticing all the things which are wrong and the things which need doing. (See our disasters here  and here ) We agreed that generally, major disasters excepted, it depends on us. It depends what we bring, how we feel, what we pay attention to.

And that we notice quite different things. One of us being far more likely to see the bad, perhaps. (As in – oh, look at the cyclamen! – subtext – so many have actually survived! Response: What happened? Where’ve they all gone? )

Cyclamen copyright Anne Wareham

Charles is the path person, so he glumly notices the moss, which he hates – and it does make the paths slippery however attractive it can be. Though our new gardener does a brilliant job of raking it up, so there should be a happy Charles now. He also never misses the box blight and so understandably feels devastated once again.

Box blighted hedge copyright Anne Wareham

This hedge has got to go and SOON! Ha – see this!

hedge gone

It’s gone!

I’m the plant person, so I notice what is looking miserable and as if it could do with some attention. I see that the vetch is getting a grip on one of the ornamental grasses again and making it look a mess. And will be a blighter to remove. I also see a plant suddenly and unexpectedly flowering. Charles sees the empty space under the roses. (kept empty until I have got in there and slaughtered ALL the bindweed. See bindweed thoughts..) And so on. And on.

Bindweed flower copyright Anne Wareham

Pretty though, isn’t it?

I remembered how, recently, we’d been cutting down and removing a great deal of excess shrub growth from the drive border, and indeed, some self sown shrubs which had sneaked in and got huge. Without, interestingly enough, either of us noticing. One favourite (oh, yes??) shrub had a great big shrub practically smothering it. So how come we weren’t even looking? Our looking is clearly very selective.

Shrub clearing at Veddw Garden copyright Anne Wareham

A little light shrub pruning…do let me know if you see too much of this bloke. He gets in everywhere…

We may perhaps have the dreaded looking down syndrome: the tendency to walk round a garden never looking up. That helps you to miss seeing a shrub being galumphed all over by an unwanted menace.

One of the big pitfalls of looking at your garden is your confluence with it. By which I mean that you and the garden partly become one, and you cease to be able to see something which has become so very familiar very clearly. It’s like when you buy something new and exciting and you go and admire it several times a day, but after three weeks you’ve got used to it and it’s gone background. In the garden I think the details, plants, weeds, rabbit droppings, add to the problem by also distracting us from the bigger picture. It can help perhaps to wander with a friend or stranger who is not so familiar with the place.

However, we are still wandering and contemplating detail. If we equip ourselves we can at least be useful. It can begin with a focus and a focus can be created by having the right thing in your hand. If you go out with a pair of secateurs in your pocket you’ll begin to notice deadheading and cutting back possibilities, because you can do them. (without traipsing back to the house, which is instant oblivion to the last task, because you see something else needing attention on the way).

Secateurs copyright Anne Wareham

Well worn.

A pair of loppers in hand can help you look up, to see what branches you could have a chop at, and you might even clear the side of the path instead of shoving past the branches that are sticking out in your way. Having your phone in hand might remind you to do a bit of Instagramming for the benefit of the relentless need for garden publicity. A whippy cane can have you swiping the bracken in a satisfying way.

And, at least this wandering might be good for your health. They used to tell us we had to do a half an hour’s vigorous exercise five times a week. Then they reckoned  a daily walk would do it. But it had to be fast – and who can enjoy the garden if you’re going fast? Meandering is what a garden demands. But now, if you’re old enough (I’m not yet sadly) TEN MINUTES a day will do and they didn’t say fast. Huzzah. Hope we live long enough to get by on the ten minute one then. 

And maybe happiness is the trick. People are always going on about how gardening is good for our ‘mental health’, by which they mean it’s supposed to make us happy, I imagine. Well…the trick probably is to  walk to a place where you can sit down in a place without too many disasters and enjoy the view. That’s what gardening is for?

And, of course, a Pimms in hand might just help you enjoy the roses. In summer.


No-one is paying me for this promotion, sadly.

Cheers! At last we’ve got to the enjoyment bit!