“The more I garden the less I know, but the more pleasure I get from it.”

The anticipation of Spring is in the air. Back to basics is the motto of the new season, and as it should be, the roses are at the heart of the garden. Taking one day at a time, I’m preparing whenever I can, and I’m noticing a change in my method this year. The initial desire for random and prolific plantings of past years has given way to a more considered and select approach to the garden aesthetic.

I’m removing many plants growing between the roses, streamlining the number of plants like a de-clutter of the house. I aim to allow the beauty of the roses to dominate now that many are a bit more established. I no longer am obsessed with filling every space with a plant and am letting the garden fill itself more naturally. I’m learning.

Now a few years on I’m finding more emphasis on the structure of the garden- what sections are here to stay. I sidetracked last year and planted too many different perennial plants thinking they would give the garden a fuller look quickly. The result was a prolific rather wild display, that although full, detracted from the roses and hid them from view. It also caused poor air circulation around some roses that can do nothing but bring disease into the garden.

I am more myself in a garden than anywhere else on Earth

Doug Green

One mistake I made was to plant several species without noting the fact that they were invasive. After considerable effort, I’m glad to say the Lemon Balm has gone, as are masses of other low growing herbs and plants that initially were lovely but were a bit like too much of a good thing.

Even recommended companion plants for roses like; Nepeta walkers low, Creeping thyme, Erigeron-seaside daisies, Dichondra falls, and Salvias were at risk of smothering the rose blooms so are culled this year. Removing these plants has meant open fresh air circulation and allowed me access to dig out particular roses whilst dormant; remove the onion weed and grass from the roots and replant again—the only way to remove weeds thoroughly.

“ You make up bits and play with them to see if they ring true. Sometimes this works out first time and all is well and good, but as often as not you have to fiddle and reshape until it is right.”

Montagu Don

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still after an abundant garden, but my perspective has shifted. It feels more authentic to realise one’s mistakes, rethink and try again and at the same time be more patient in building the structure of the garden. I still would love to hide our ugly ( necessary) fence and have planted Buddleia, May Bush and larger style roses in this attempt. I’ve realised that the constant changes of the garden are in essence what it is all about and make the spaces interesting.

The landscape I’ve noticed every Spring when the blooms burst open is entirely different to the year before. At first, I put this down to new rose purchases, and of course, I’m always moving things- transplanting being my middle name.

Also, storms and mishaps occasionally mean plants or trees are lost, and the spaces are hard to refill – the landscape has changed forever. New light, perhaps more sun, will change the nature of the garden too, and that space will not be the same again. Gardens are not static, although continual are constantly evolving.

How lovely the silence of growing things

Evan Dicken

After several setbacks since I planted the first roses such as drought, severe frost, dust storms, overly hot summers, beetles eating inside the rosebuds, spider mites and black spot it does seem so far that this year promises to be remarkable. I’m not after perfection and these hiccups are what makes a garden and brings a unique connection to nature – the reason we garden in the first place.

No garden built in an instant with highly advanced plants and trees as we see on popular TV shows will ever replicate the personal story of one’s garden—the triumphs of watching and working with nature and seeing a garden take shape. Rather than reliance on a set of tasks this year, I’m enjoying the process of gardening and love the art of pottering about and being instrumental in creating my unique garden story. Gardens will constantly be changing, and we can be sure that there is little point to a garden if we have not had a hand in attempting to tame nature, but we can have an enormous amount of fun trying.

Content Di Baker 2021

Images all by Unsplash photographers- thank you

Title Quote by Monty Don

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