The black-fingered gardener

Posted on: 26/02/2011

As you may have gathered, I’m attempting to move house.   Cue the sudden fix/tidy/clean frenzy.

And of course, this is the time to suddenly notice that over the past few years the front garden has deteriorated from presentable to dingy: –

  • No flowers.  Well, none that are visible amidst the weeds, anyway.
  • Hideous Euonymous bush, which might once have looked nice, but now is just a haven for whitefly.
  • A winter flowering Jasmine, the best of a bad bunch, is so overgrown it’s starting to creep into the water stopcock.  Eek.

So, today I invested £22.83 on 15 pretty primroses and a bag of bark chippings.  (I’d have spent considerably less if the chippings came in packets of less than 100 litres, mind you.)

An old friend of mine used to joke that she had black fingers when it came to gardening, and I have adopted the phrase since it seems to apply to me.  Over the years the sturdiest of house plants have withered and died.  There is only one surviving plant, and that’s not to give any credit to me – it just refuses to die in spite of months at a time without water.

Similarly, any attempts I make in the garden don’t tend to do very well.  Mainly because I never water anything.  Occasionally I plant some stuff, and somehow it survives.  I have a thriving bay bush, rosemary plant and sage plant.  Approximately 20 per cent of the many, many other plants are in a bit of a sorry state.  The other eighty percent are dead; I just haven’t bitten the bullet and got rid of them yet.

This is because my attempts at gardening amount to the following three steps:

  1. Make an impressive initial effort.  Prune and weed in order to find space for new plants, heaps of compost, plant everything nicely, water everything thoroughly, cover the earth with bark chippings, sweep up the remaining earth, and put all the prunings in the garden recycling bags (which incidentally are utterly rubbish. Not one remained intact.)
  2. Forget about it entirely as some other household palava takes priority.
  3. Come back a few weeks later to find that most things have died.  Get depressed.  Find somewhere other than the garden to spend time.

Anyhow, needs must when there’s a house to sell, so I got home this afternoon, and with the sun shining, the baby sleeping, and the kids in a good mood, I dived in.

Okay, with my track record, perhaps I shouldn’t have bothered planting the primroses out front.  But I did do all of step 1 above, even if it did take three and a half hours, finishing in complete darkness.

Cue my second meaning to the black fingered gardener, as after coming back into the house and thoroughly washing my hands three times, my fingers still look like this.

That’s right, it’s been so long since I did any gardening the gloves I bought once upon a time were nowhere to be found.  Clearly I need a long soak in a bath with a nail brush handy.  However, I seem to be spending the allotted time blogging.  Whoops.

Back to the point, anyway.  Will those primroses last long enough to sell the house?

Well, with the financial incentive, maybe, just maybe, I can get out there with a watering can every so often.

But I have to admit I’m more likely to be relying heavily on the good old British climate.


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