Growing pains calmed by chlamydia growing up the wall


It’s all such a rush, don’t you find? An impatient, mind-scrambling race into long anticipated lazy, hazy days of barbecues, burgeoning blooms and beer gardens.

Gardens of any description, if truth be known. Was anyone so infuriatingly competitive as the humble domestic gardener? I really don’t think so.

We’re not out of April yet and already devoted and dedicated, if amateur, home horticulturists are smugly showing off their exceptional talents and shaming those of us who are found wanting. Not for the first time.

“Your mam’s chlamydia’s looking good,” my father bragged the other day. “It’s growing up the garage wall like a good ‘un.”

“Would that be your clematis?”

“You think? Or is it a camellia?”

“Whatever it is, I’m rather hoping it’s not chlamydia…”

And some fell on stony ground.

Anyway, that’s as maybe. Anyone can make a mistake. And I should talk. I’ve yet to clear the latest, seemingly endless piles of crispy dead leaves from my back garden. And the front is displaying only sad, terminally ill daffs and weary tulips at life’s end. That’s about it. The little rosemary trees are looking promising but, while grateful for their efforts, their good fortune has had nothing to do with me. Furthermore… well, never mind the furthermore.

I can’t keep up. A braver soul would dismiss and discard all contesting sprints toward homes and gardens perfection. A braver soul would accept the pace she’s been given and live with it. But failure to keep up is a hard pill to swallow. It’s sticking painfully in the throat. I was never very good at sprinting. Everybody is beating me.

“Barbecue today,” my friend Nicola informed on a rare warm and sunny Sunday. “Do you do gas or natural coals?”

“Neither. I have a new kitchen. This oven cost me a lot.”

“You need to get out there,” she said. “Nothing like it. If you can keep out of the wind and wear a coat. I don’t recommend gas, FYI.”

She sent me pictures of her magnolia – and burnt sausages - just to add to my sense of inadequacy. Think I might need a magnolia. And a thick, woolly cardigan. If I’m going to keep up.

This is, so some say, the hard core gardening season. Really? How would I know? It is, if you’re impatient, the start of the living outdoors time… but in a coat.

Instinct tells me to wait a while. At least until I can shed the outer layers. I might be wrong and I’d prefer it if you didn’t trust my instincts. They are almost always unreliable.

But neighbours are out mowing lawns, hoeing borders and painting fences. I’d thought I had a couple of weeks to go yet. Living so far north, I’d reckoned I might even have squeezed in a few more days before having to concentrate on the ideal home thing.

But I hadn’t figured on the fierce competition to present a perfectly formed garden to the world, the minute the clocks shifted. Silly me.

“I’ve seen some smashing bedding plants in Morrisons,” Dad said. “I’m after a lot of colour this year.”

“Might be a tad early for those,” I suggested. “Another few weeks, perhaps?”

“Now you’re a gardener?”

Clearly not. But, with respect where it’s due, I think I know where chlamydyia grows. And, so far as I’m aware, it is not and never has been up garage walls. If it is, we’re all in trouble.

Had I been a more sensible, confidently expert gardener, with a potting shed and more time on my hands, I might be in a position to offer wiser advice to lazy gardeners like me. I’m not. I can’t. I need more time.

No way is perfection a reflection of my response to season change. I’m rubbish.

One day I’ll get out of the competitive gardening race. For now though: sweeping, hoeing, clearing, nurturing – when there’s time – and hoping against hope no chlamydia grows up my garage wall. What I do will have to do.

Know what I mean…?

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