Since my new fella has been on the scene, I have been enjoying an activity that I have rarely experienced before – gardening ‘à deux’. It’s an activity that I have never thought myself capable of participating in, so sure am I that I could not be compatible with another in the garden as well as in love. Turns out I might be wrong. Over Christmas The Beau (as he shall henceforth be known) and I have been scrambling to plant all the bulbs that I had neglected to tackle during the four months previous. To my shame he reckons there were at least 1000 of them, mainly tulips and narcissi. (We shall not speak of the further 50 or so I purchased last weekend when I fell for the 75% Off sign at Wyevale). Happily the majority were still in perfect condition despite having sat in crates in the workshop since September. The secret is to keep them somewhere dry, dark and very well ventilated. This weekend the final 200 or so bulbs went into brand-new terracotta pots, ready to put on a colourful display in March, April and May.
Without The Beau’s help bulb planting would have been a long, lonely and tedious chore. There was even a risk it might not have happened at all. Instead it’s been relatively quick and easy, to the extent that I wonder why I wasn’t able to do it in a more timely fashion. It seems that four hands make light work. I have not counted the number of pots we filled, but it must be over 70. Each was cleaned with a stiff brush before filling with fresh compost and plump bulbs, often planted in multiple layers to pack in as much flower-power as possible. Alongside overwintering gingers, cannas and dahlias, these pots are covering the floor of my workshop before being transferred out into the garden where I will arrange them theatre-style.
My conviction that it’s not possible for me to garden with another human being stems from not making a great deal of effort in the past. I am not as patient as I could be and in my heart-of-hearts I believe that no-one else could possibly do something the way I wanted it done. This is a foolish and silly way to approach work, but perhaps I am now discovering that I am capable of greater magnanimity. I have seen it done by couples such as Sarah and David Ash at Marshborough Farmhouse, and have marvelled at their ability to operate as co-creators, co-enthusiasts and co-workers in their beautiful garden, yet I never thought I could operate in the same way.
I have always regarded gardening as a solitary activity; a way to escape and unwind. I remain uncertain that I could ever garden cheek-by-jowl with another human being, nor relinquish the position of head gardener in my own patch, but the idea of having a companion to bounce ideas off, share the burden of work, learn things from and generally have a laugh with is an appealing one. I am already considering what more could be achieved and how much easier life might be with two of us working in the garden together. Only time will tell if I have the strength of character to ‘let go’. Hopefully The Beau will stick around for long enough to find out. TFG.
Do you garden with your significant other or, like Greta Garbo do you want to be alone? If you’re gardening’s answer to Phil and Holly, Ant and Dec or Mel and Sue, how do you achieve harmony and manage not to fall out? I’m sure many of us would love to know the secret of horticultural togetherness.
P.S. For more thoughts on how late one can plant spring bulbs and get away with it, take a look at my post ‘When is too late to plant spring bulbs?‘. This is one of my most read posts of the last seven years, so clearly it’s not just me who leaves this task until the last minute!