The tyranny of the garden

I’m going to say something distinctly un-British here:

I don’t like having a garden.

I know that it’s something we’re supposed to appreciate without question. Like the weird American obsession with having a fireplace. But if it were possible to buy a reasonable-size house that was gardenless, I’d be up for it like a shot.

I phoned my dad on Sunday, which was a beautiful sunny day, and talked about all the things I was doing (and the Life Stuff that is mostly keeping me off the blog just now.) “Oh no”, he said “you shouldn’t be doing that stuff today. You should be doing your garden.”

One of the few advantages of the Scottish winter is that you have an excuse not to do anything with your garden. It isn’t growing too much, it’s cold, even the enthusiastic gardeners don’t seem to be doing all that much beyond a bit of raking. But then it gets to this time of the year and you need to face the first lawnmowing of the year. You accidentally turn on Gardeners’ Question Time is all about pruning and how if you get it wrong it will be a giant disaster. Nice things start to pop up in other people’s gardens and put your tatty front lawn to shame.

The thing that I particularly resent is that the investment-to-reward ratio of a Scottish garden is so very low. We don’t get all that many nice days in Scotland generally (although I have to say, the last week or so has been a nice exception). As soon as we do get a nice day, what do I want to do? Go to the park. Go to the beach. Take a walk on the coastal path. What do I feel I ought to do? Work in the damn garden. What actually happens? Either a) I sit inside and stew with guilt, b) I say ‘sod it’ and go to the park, returning to look at the foot-high grass with massive guilt or c) I resentfully spend the only nice day of the month pulling weeds.

That’s another thing. The same rain that means you hardly ever get to spend time in your garden means that when you do, everything has grown like Topsy and is bent on world domination.

My dad quite likes his garden. But he still sits out in the greenhouse rather than in the garden because it is just Not Warm Enough to sit outside in Scotland.

Anyway, I mowed. I pruned a bit. It’s still looking at me. I seem to have lost the useful map of what the plants are that I put together by asking people who know these things. One of my trees needs topping. The eucalyptus is way ugly but I’m not sure I can justify getting rid of it. And I just wish that I didn’t have this stupid, growing, weedy, mossy, greenish patch taking up any of my brain space. It’s tempting to just ignore it.

But there’s always that very British thought: oh no! if I just neglect it, what will the neighbours think?

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2 Responses to The tyranny of the garden

  1. dorkymum says:

    Haha, love this post. I hate gardening too – I was so disappointed on Sunday when the main feature in the Observer magazine was about gardening! Who cares!? – but at the moment we’ve not got one, and I’m missing it. We’ve got a park right next door, but it’s not quite the same thing.

    Definitely a fan of gardens as a safe space for the toddler to run around in, rather than as a thing of any great beauty though.

    Fingers crossed you have a lovely sunny summer – with time for mowing AND beach walks.

  2. Having a garden is useful if you have kids and/or pets, but having neither it just doesn’t seem worth it! When we were down south it seemed quite plausible that folk might want to sit outside quite often, but here I’m just not hardy enough.

    Yes, let’s hope we get a nice summer to make it worthwhile!

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