Don’t be a slave to your gar­den

A clam­ber­ing wis­te­ria, the un­stop­pable lawn, de­mand­ing del­phini­ums: some fea­tures of the gar­den will al­ways de­mand reg­u­lar at­ten­tion in re­pay­ment for sea­sonal ad­mi­ra­tion. Steven Des­mond finds ways to re­duce the work­load that put en­joy­ment ahead of ex­er­tio

Country Life Every Week - - In The Garden - Il­lus­tra­tions by Bry­ony Fripp

There comes a time in ev­ery­one’s life when some­thing has to give. A sub­tle change has crept over us: once upon a time, the view from the win­dow gen­er­ated a nev­erend­ing tide of ideas for fill­ing the gar­den with lovely new plants, ob­jects and fea­tures, whose ac­qui­si­tion and main­te­nance would pro­vide that spur to the imag­i­na­tion fa­mil­iar to us all. Now, how­ever, the charm of nov­elty has faded, to be re­placed by the in­creas­ing re­al­i­sa­tion that it is all too much.

The rou­tine sea­sonal tasks that were the chief delight of early evenings are now nag­ging obli­ga­tions that get re­peat­edly put off. This looks un­com­fort­ably like the be­gin­ning of a cy­cle of de­cline, which, in a gar­den, can be very hard to stop. Some­thing must be done.

The way for­ward from this awk­ward mo­ment is to ac­knowl­edge the change in cir­cum­stances and make the nec­es­sary ad­just­ments, rather than sub­mit to a cli­mate of quiet de­spair. Much bet­ter to re­con­sider ev­ery­thing in that view and make con­scious de­ci­sions that cer­tain prac­tices have to stop, to be re­placed by other, more re­al­is­tic ones. There is no rea­son why the view should not con­tinue to be lovely and the evening walk still give daily plea­sure. Let us be prac­ti­cal.

The main com­po­nent in the view is typ­i­cally the lawn. Lawns come in many forms and all of them re­quire main­te­nance. All must be mown and edged and the clip­pings re­moved and dis­posed of. A bowl­ing-green lawn must also be spiked, top-dressed, fer­tilised, scar­i­fied and mown three times a week in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions with a cylin­der mower. A 19th-cen­tury do­mes­tic lawn, on the other hand, was cut once a fort­night and that was more or less it. Grass in the

Ban­ish long hours spent mow­ing by cut­ting se­lec­tively, cre­at­ing paths and al­low­ing de­fined ar­eas to grow longer

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