Fact of the Week

Forced rhubarb in season now. Don't miss out!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Living the dream

I haven't written about the garden for a while. Which is not because I have fallen out of love with my small patch of green space in south-east London. Far from it, whilst my friends have gleefully leafed through the pages of Johnnie Boden's new season's designs, I have spent hours pouring over this year's catalogues from J Parker's, Marshalls, Suttons, Thompson & Morgan et al (admittedly pouring turned to purchasing as evidenced by the packages delivered to work treacherously marked 'Warning - contains live plants'); I have disinfected the greenhouse (the garden equivalent of spring cleaning but involving significantly less procrastination); and I have germinated row upon row of seedlings, which are currently in residence in my living room and will move, once all risk of frost has passed, into a more permanent home in the cold frame/greenhouse/raised bed (the horticultural equivalent of Labour's Sure Start...'giving seedlings the best possible start in life').

The reality is that this year - which marks the garden's third birthday - the roles of nurture and nature have become more evenly balanced and the garden is less dependant on my constant attentions. The perennials - now well established - return like old friends year after year. A policy of survival of the fittest has weeded out those precious plants which were unable to hold their own in the limited space my London garden has to offer. And after two years practice, the sowing, planting, weeding, feeding cycle has become more intuitive and I am no longer dependant on my many manuals and books to guide me though the garden's next steps.

However, before I had a chance to enjoy the garden's self sufficiency (it is after all only April), it has been placed under threat by the hosepipe ban, which has been rolled out across the south-east. The lack of rain combined with the lack of sprinkler (currently forbidden) has forced a vital rethink in the relationship between gardener and garden (well, at least between this gardener and her garden). Gone are the mornings when I am able to get ready for work, whilst the sprinkler sets the garden up for the forthcoming day. Instead I am forced to lurch out of the shower (feeling guilty that I am not (yet) recycling my water), coffee cup in one hand, watering can in the other, piece of toast intermittently swapped between the two, and set off on a one woman Olympic relay up and down the garden, delivering water to those (vegetables) that need it most (the flowers, alas, will have to fend for themselves if I am to stand the slightest chance of getting to work!).

Whilst I am resigned to this exacting start to my day, it appears that the rain gods heard my plaintive cries. For, since I bought a second watering can to speed up the process, the heavens have opened and are not forecast to close again any time soon (and obviously not in time for the weekend).

As the rain pours down the kitchen windows, my hopes of lying on my lush green grass reading a book on a quiet Sunday afternoon are gradually rising. Maybe, just maybe...