I’m not sure why, but I don’t put an ownership tag on the garden. I don’t say that it is “my” garden. Photos are of “the” garden, we eat in “the” garden, I show people (interested or not) pictures of “the” garden and I like to talk about “the” garden. People visit “the” garden.
It’s rarely “my” garden.
Where this originates from, I don’t know. It’s perhaps a subconscious awareness that I’m just the current custodian of a small piece of land. I’m it’s current steward, only temporary. The tall pine trees running along the back of the garden have seen many people come and go and just as they saw me come in 2014, so they will see me out, years from now.
The housing estate I live in was built in the 1950’s and almost seventy years later, there are a mix of the original people that moved into the “new builds”, elderly now and younger families. One of our neighbours, an elderly original, kindly gave us a Judas tree as her passed-husband used to have a thing for them in a similar way to me with Clematis. It joined the Nomadic Patio Pot collection for a year while we created the bulbous end of Fruit Avenue. When the tree could finally go into the ground a year later, that area of border was renamed to “Judas Rise”. This year, the profusion of bright pink blossom erupting from bare wood shows the tree has settled in well and should grow strong this year.
Of course, it has a clematis growing up it too. None other than Clematis “Crème Chantilly”, a sentimental favourite.
This spring, we invited said neighbour across the road and round to the back of the house, onto the patio to take a look at how her husband’s tree was doing. She was stunned by the borders and plants in the garden, recalling when it used to be mainly laid to lawn with some beds that were not on the scale of what we have now. She remembered the pear tree on the patio that we had to take down as it had grown too large.
She reminisced of “Ed” or “Eddie” as the original occupant of the house we now live in and how he had worked to clear the garden and set the lawn as the gardens were not really “complete” when the houses were first sold. She told us how he had to do a great deal of earth moving to level the ground and how a lot of the excess earth and rubble was piled up by the house to create the upper terrace.
She also told an interesting story about the long hedges that run down the length of the garden, one of beech and one of rhododendron. Apparently, Eddie and friends went into the bordering heath to snatch young self-seeded beech saplings and self-spread rhododendron shrubs and they were planted as hedges. We had assumed they were an original feature of the house, put in by the housing corporation, but they were actually put in by Eddie.
Since Eddie passed, there came another family who were not gardeners and that’s when the garden gradually fell into disrepair, when they moved out, we we arrived and set about to not just restore the garden but turn it into something that has people looking out at it with wonder.
As she stood on the upper patio, in her slippers with slightly shaky legs, leaning on a chair, she looked up to the sunny blue sky, smiled and said, “Don’t worry Eddie, your garden’s in good hands”.
That’s a compliment, if ever I heard one and way into the future, perhaps the best thing I can hope for is that someone will look up to me and say the same.
Perhaps then the garden will be mine.