I recently spent some time (okay, maybe a few days) watching videos about English Gardens. The English are amazing. Every one of them interviewed talked about how, when they inherited or bought their properties, the properties were either overgrown or just meadow grass. Every one of them have been working their gardens for 30 plus years. Their grass is a luxurious carpet that one gardener dismissively claims “it’s just meadow that’s been mowed.”
What?! Do you know how much money we spent “installing” our lawn?
They all talk about how they go on garden vacations around the world and bring back plants that they need to find homes for in their gardens. While writing about it makes me a bit angry and more than a little envious, I didn’t feel this way while watching the videos because the English are like that–they embody all things civil for me. Their accents and their slightly self-deprecating manner is OH, so charming!
I have been enamored with the English since I read The Little Princess in the fourth grade. The Secret Garden deepened my admiration. Other books–and even movies, have since sealed my fate. I have to admit that the character I most relate to would be the humble Hobbit. I love to spend my days caring for my home, cooking food, and, of course, eating. My love for gardening, however, surpasses all of these things. I started reading anything I could get my hands on about gardening when my mother first subscribed to Martha Stewart’s Living magazine back in 1990. We lived in a three bedroom condominium, and my mother’s only garden was a six-foot by 10 foot lanai upon which she kept dozens of potted orchids, ferns, chili peppers, and lemon grass.
After getting married, I lived in an apartment, a couple of town homes, and a house–all rentals with tiny yards and existing landscaping. I continued to read gardening books, and dream of a day when I would own my own little piece of land and be able to create my own garden. We now pay the bank for our home that sits on 2.4 acres of a partially wooded lot.
I’ve started VERY slowly. I had a professional install landscaping in the front of the house four years ago (we’ve lived here for 5 years). I had them shape planting beds around three sides of the house and cover them with landscape fabric and pine straw. A few crepe myrtles and yews, some gardenia bushes, and one lonely dwarf magnolia were planted.
My kids and I installed a vegetable garden that same year. I built four raised beds out of pine and hauled garden soil and gravel that I had a local company deliver. That year and the next, we had LOTS of organic produce to eat. The third year the stink bugs, the deer, and the rabbits ate or destroyed pretty much everything in the vegetable garden. Last year, I was too depressed with medical issues to do much gardening.
SO…after watching those videos on Netflix, I was all inspired to start gardening again. I mean REALLY gardening. I went to the local hardware store with a $100 budget for plants to add to the front planting beds. My goal is to pack those beds so tightly that the weeds won’t grow, and I wouldn’t have to spend so much money on mulch. I got home, and immediately put my plants in the ground and realized $100 is NOTHING. I must re-think my strategy and re-read some of those old gardening books. I will be sharing my experiences here in the hopes of garnering advice and tips. 😉