Relaxed gardening?

The garden is slowly being won back. We can now see the fencing all the way around the property, and some of the big tangles of brambles have been chopped down (my husband is enjoying his new tractor toy) and there has been SOME advance on the war of attrition against the ever-advancing goose grass and bind weed.

Whilst this is, obviously, brilliant, and does make my garden look more like a garden and less like a waste ground, I do feel a little sad that the chaotic messes of flowers, brambles, grasses that attract so many butterflies and bees have gone. (There are still a few patches left around thanks to my grumpy face as my husband starts up the tractor). What I do want to do is trade up the scratchy nettley, brambly mess to pretty wildflower patches.

This does mean I have to convince my husband that it is worth spending money on seed mixes – his general opinion on wildflowers is that they are messy and once bloomed, leave you with a whole lot of boring grass. I have pointed out that one can buy wildflower mixes that do not contain grass, but he doesn’t seem convinced. At times I am not sure he really likes gardens, other than lawns with stripes. Possibly some sculpted hedges. I think the big problem is how both of us have grown up – our gardening ‘legacy’ if you will.

Both of our parents had reasonably big gardens when we were children – both between half and a full acre. But boy were they different to look at!

My in-laws have a beautiful garden. Their borders are neat, carefully edged and barked so there are no pesky weeds. Everything is neat and in its place – there are 12 new raised beds for the vegetable plot, each with its own vegetable. The drive is block-paved and I am fairly convinced that my father in law won awards for his garden when my husband was a teen.

Skip to my parent’s garden from when I was a kid… it was a very different view! They had equally green hands – but the garden had a much more slap dash feel to it. The vegetable patch was much bigger, but wasn’t in neat raised beds – just one big patch of mud! The garden did not have block paving but rather meandering paths of concrete, slates and tiles. Although there was a plan and careful planting, it had a wilder, less formal feel. (As opposed to the in-laws – that feels like it could be transported into a stately home’s garden!)

I think this has translated into our attitudes now – I am more than happy to go with casual and relaxed if it means less weeding. The hubby is obsessed with neatness – at whatever cost, rooting out weeds, or getting rid of those pesky plants that are untidy with their lack of uniform growing; and therefore chucking a whole load of mixed seeds onto a patch seems to be a step too far for him! (I am also not allowed chickens, as they create mess too...)

But this might be one thing I put my foot down on. I love wildflowers, and there are so many beautiful mixes you can get. It might also help me alleviate my guilt about cutting down the bumble bee food. And who doesn’t want to live on a waste land with patches of wildflowers, right?

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