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
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