I am amazed by the array of wonderful plants at our disposal for creating our living masterpieces
I finally have a garden big enough to indulge whatever gardening whim blows my way and I really do appreciate how lucky I am. Many gardeners have a limited space and whilst we all love looking at gardening programs, magazines, visiting wonderful gardens and garden centres many people have to think about where they can find the space to put this new ‘must-have’ plant. I have a friend here in Germany who has a wonderful garden but of a limited size, when she discovers something she likes she just buys it and either digs up some more lawn to accommodate it or removes some other plant specimen. Some people might think that she is a bit crazy but it is her garden, her creation and the relationship that they share is unique, personal and nurturing.
Gardening is a life lesson for the impatient
I’ve met a few very succesful people who have very impressive corporate careers and then decide to take up gardening. Sometimes it is a painful experience both for them and for me. For those people who have had ‘minions’ and expect immediate results in gardening like they have in their corporate lives it can be a reality that is hard to accept.
Gardens take time, there are always unexpected twists and turns and let’s face it sometimes nature can be unyielding, a little like my good self! I often try to explain to people that gardening is a process, albeit an evolving one and that the process is just as important as the end result.
I simply cannot move house again
I’m in my 50’s now and I’ve spent the last 5 years developing the Moosbach Garden and it feels like I’ve only just started. Any logical person would sell the house and buy another with a good-sized garden that is flat but let’s face it I was probably at the back of the queue when they were handing out logic. The Moosbach Garden is steep, there are very few even remotely flat spaces, the winter is long, cold and there is usually lots of snow. However, what is life without a few challenges? I have worked many hours in my garden, I have planted uncountable numbers of plants and trees, this is a marriage that I simply cannot walk away from. The thought of digging up thousands of euro’s worth of plants is not one I ever want to seriously contemplate. My sister, who has lots of common sense (she got my share) tells me that I will never recoup the value of the plants when we move but I can’t think in those terms. Every year those plants repay me for my financial investment by soothing my soul, bringing me untold amounts of happiness and providing a paradise both for me and wildlife, I reckon that is priceless.
I’m not a mover and shaker
I was never especially academic, I did OK but never excelled at anything, I had no idea of what career to follow and consequently was never going to set the world ablaze. I have no children and am a little bit eccentric. What I can do is garden, I have been gardening for over 35 years but didn’t realise at an early age that I should make it my career. Yes, you got it, I’m a slow learner! I have decided that I will be quite happy if during my time on this planet I can create a garden that is beautiful, that will endure and that people might visit it long after I have hung up my gardening gloves. It is a tall order as there are so many beautiful gardens in the world and maybe I’m deluding myself but it’s my delusion so don’t deprive me of it.
It’s great when things start coming together
When we moved here there wasn’t much of a garden at all and it has taken 5 years of hard graft, many gardening projects and lots of experimentation to get the soil and plant choices right. The top garden is really starting to have the feel of what I wanted to create, the plants have found their feet and have lots of healthy top growth that is proportionate to the garden space. We are just adding a pergola for the Paul’s Himalayan Musk and a row of poles and wires to support the climbing roses and then structurally we are finished. The rest of the work in the top garden isn’t really work at all, weeding, dead-heading and pruning are the fun bits. I have a love of English flowers and as well as roses we have peonies, delphiniums and phlox. Peonies appear to be my latest garden obsession, we have a mixture of herbaceous, tree and Itoh peonies. The first tree peony that I planted here is now 1.5 metres tall and is covered with flower buds and buds of a size that I have not seen before. I’m told that the flowers can be as big as a dinner plate once the plant is mature enough and happy. so fingers crossed.
We are striving towards a BIO garden
We love nature and the planet and we want to do everything that we can to encourage biodiversity, so no weed killers, no slug pellets, no quick fixes. We have a nature pond and a resident population of frogs, we have small lizards and we want to encourage hedge hogs. We have left piles of branches to provide overwintering habitats for hedge hogs and insects, what we are going for is a sustainable eco system. I am not a gardener without misdemeanors, I have used far too many slug pellets in previous years and have also used weed killers. However, this is not something that I am prepared to do anymore, I’m learning to work with nature rather than against it. This year my other big goal is improving the soil composition to help retain water and this is so important with global warming. I’m trying out bark mulch this year to see if it makes a difference. In theory it helps reduce water evaporation, improves soil competition and allows mycorrhizal fungi to establish and this should lead to healthier plants.
Are you getting it yet?
So the title of this piece is “Why I wouldn’t swap my garden for anything” and I’m hoping that I have convinced some of you that a garden is a symbiotic relationship worth investing in, that it’s not just your garden that grows but yourself as well. So you can keep your big cities, you can keep fortune and fame, I don’t need them. What I do need is to be in a relationship that is honest, that has its ups and downs but where the needs of both parties are met and gardening fulfills these needs. Don’t misinterpret me, I’m very happily married but I’m in 2 relationships, 1 with my husband and 1 with my garden, may they both be long and fruitful. I partied endlessly in my youth but now that I’m in my 50’s I’d much rather be working in my own garden or walking around a National Trust garden than at a music festival. Let my soundtrack now be the buzzing of bees, the trill of birdsong, the cockerel crowing from the orchard or a hen announcing proudly that she has just laid an egg. Realising that not all rewards can be measured in financial terms, that the phrase ” return on investment” can be measured not only in an increase the value of your home but on how it’s improved your life-balance, your levels of happiness and helped nature and the planet. I’ going to sign off now as my husband has just finished baking a rhubarb cake from freshly harvested rhubarb from the vegetable garden and I think it would be rude to not try a piece! I wish your all happy gardening, peace and joy.
The Moosbach Gardener.