Thursday 4 August 2022

Rethinking gardens

 We spent a couple of hours yesterday afternoon dealing with the front garden, which was a horrible, overgrown, mostly dried up jungle.  Virtually all of the bedding plants and most of the perennials were dead, the shrubs and roses were just about alive but brown, dry and struggling, the roses had just a few very small flowers, some of them hadn't survived the bud stage, shrivelling up in the intense heat we've had.  The lawn is dead straw, the soil in the pots and flower borders has dried up so much it's shrunk and turned to dust.  I can't remember the last time we had any decent rain - even yesterday morning, the few showers we had were barely enough to wet the concrete, they certainly didn't do anything for the beds.  I pruned the roses (2 shrubs, 2 climbers and a compact but out of control rambler) and the clematis/honeysuckle hedge, there's 2 clematis, a Spring flowering pink Montana and early summer yellow Tangutica.  After some thought, I told husband to just use his strimmer to cut down everything in the borders except for the 3 hydrangeas, a hardy fuschia and a couple of geraniums.  Everything now looks tidy, if somewhat decimated and dried up.  All of the bedding plants I put in pots in the Spring have died.  Come the winter/early spring when everything is dormant, we'll put a few bags of compost on the beds to pep up the soil.

Trying to maintain 2 flower gardens and a veg plot, in 2 separate places, is proving very challenging - too much so.  We've already decided not to grow many (if any) veggies next year - they need regular watering, weeding, tying up and picking, which we obviously can't do when we're not here.  Our immediate neighbours are a young busy family who work full time and have numerous after school activities, our other neighbours are elderly or infirm, so there's no-one we can ask to water regularly for us.  We also know it's pointless trying to grow any veg again at the caravan, for the same reasons.  I love having pots full of colourful flowers, but they need daily watering when it's hot.   So we're going to have to rethink for next year - less flowers in pots, less pots in fact, and the ones we do have will have to be planted up with shrubs or perennials that can look after themselves.  Same goes for the borders - at least plants in the borders are better able to survive less watering.  Unfortunately, we can't be in two places at once.  So our goal for the rest of the year will just be to try and keep everything tidy and not worry about trying to actually grow anything else.

Thank you for the courgette suggestions, I've done some googling as well and have found a couple of ideas that sound good - courgette and blue cheese frittata, and griddled courgette ribbons with tagliatelle, goats cheese, walnuts and honey.  When I use some of the mince I'm cooking today to make a lasagne, I think I'll use sliced longways courgettes instead of the pasta sheets.  I've got a lovely shiny purple aubergine, I bet that sliced thinly and layered up with thin sliced courgettes on a sheet of puff pastry, with crumbled feta or goats cheese and maybe some pine nuts and honey drizzled over would make a lovely tart.

My arms, shoulders and back don't half ache this morning following the garden tidying yesterday, so I won't be doing much today.


  1. Good ideas re: the gardens. I'm the gardener in our house, and find I'm less and less enthused nowadays. I'd hate to have no garden, but I'm looking to reduce the work, too. We do pay for it the next day, when we do anything strenuous, don't we? Oh, the joys of getting older! xx

  2. I have the same issue - massive garden, getting older, far less strength and energy, and want to be away in my campervan, not here all the time attending to the place.

    After spending a decade creating this garden I now recognise I have to spend the next few years 'de-gardening' it. So far this has meant cutting right back on annuals and vegetables, all of which require endless watering and attention.

    This coming autumn/winter I am remodelling a couple of beds which are hard work and I think that is something which will have to continue. So if it is any consolation you are not alone.

  3. Please, please, please don't concrete everywhere for the sake of looking clean & tidy with no upkeep. Our lovely birds and bees (and other essential insects) cannot survive without food and drink - and if they die out, so do we - fact! I have just bought several packets of Phacelia tanacetifolia (Fiddleneck Green Manure) to scatter along the borders of my front garden to replace the plants which have dried out. Part of the borage family, it is attractive to bees,etc. and when it's over, you dig it into the soil and it replenishes all the goodness.

  4. At my caravan I just put shrubs in and a few cheap perennials that I wouldn't be too upset at losing if I were to have to stay away for a while. The rest of our little garden was just grass, that I mowed every week when possible and kept nice and short. Any vegetables and herbs that I had there were dotted in amongst the flowers and drenched when I could and left to their own devices when I couldn't.

  5. There is always so much upkeep in gardens. I know you will make the right decision for you.

    God bless.

  6. It's as dry as a bone here too. My pots are OK because I water them but everything else is dying and shrivelling. Oh, well, nature will survive, one way or another. xx

  7. OOOh yummy. That aubergine recipe sounds divine.... We've had a week of heavy rain showers and warm sunshine so everything is growing like mad things.


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