Reverie in the Garden


I have just come indoors after over an hour of wandering around the garden, in the glorious thin March sunshine. I only went out to put some kitchen waste into the bin, but then as usual, a cloud came over me ….. this always happens when I venture into the garden between spring and autumn. I enter a strange state of reverie and can spend literally hours just pottering. I’m not quite sure exactly what I did over that missing hour and a half but looking out the window now I see I made a terrific mess (tidying up after me was never my strong point). I know I re-potted a few things (hence the empty pots and compost scattered around the paving stones), but most of the time I generally spend pootling about, checking things out, making plans, picking up the odd weed or squashing a cheeky slug who dares show his slimy mush in daylight. I also have a worrying tendency to make like Prince Charles and start chatting to my plants; some need a stern talking to of the ‘it’s my way or the compost heap for you my son’ others are praised for their great beauty – the deep, deep velvety plum hellebore, so tiny with such beautiful contrasting yellow stamens surrounded by a tiny, frilly corona of true petals or the delightful little cardamine flowers on their bed of pretty leaves. Other plants get an encouraging pep talk; these are plants on the way up – the trilliums, peonies and few surviving candelabra Primula by the pond. This is all done at normal talking volume, which in my cloth-eared case is full volume which means I do get rather a lot of funny looks from the neighbours and passers-by.

I imagine that most gardeners are exactly the same as me. A lot of our time is spent just having a good old think: considering what works well, what doesn’t work, what needs to be done and prioritizing jobs. Some problems need addressing immediately – protecting a particular plant from slugs, treating scale insects, moving a plant in the wrong place before it flowers, while others can be put on the long finger. Then of course there is fantasy time, how I am going to re-arrange the garden completely and have professionals come and do all the hard landscaping for me. This is when I win the lotto and get my kitchen extension ….. this train of thought leads to many and varied paths which have no garden-related theme at all: who is going to benefit from me when I win, how wonderful I am going to be, how charitable, how like Lady Bountiful I shall go around dispensing largesse to my astonished and grateful friends. How those who have slighted me in the past shall be crossed off my list of favourites, the charities who will be overwhelmed by my generosity and humbled by wish to remain an anonymous donor and so it goes on until I am awoken with a start from this ignoble hubris-tainted benevolent dream by spotting the dog running around the road with a pair of my dirty knickers in his mouth.

So back indoors to dreary housework. This is the key to why gardening is such fun, I never have reveries when I’m hovering or making the beds. I just feel cross, hot and ill-used.


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