The trials and tribulations of
An independent designer.
An independent designer.
think it’s finally safe to call this month’s blog “The Balcony” and not “The Garden” 4. I’d only ever meant to write one piece about gardens but it seems there was more to say about a journey that has turned the most negative space, into the most positive.
However, I’m going to start by answering the question posed at the end of my last blog.
“why? In a green and white planting scheme, I’ve chosen to introduce Mediterranean blue"
Well… It’s because of my Agapanthus of course; they were always going to be that mesmerizing blue.
I discovered, as I arrived here that I wasn’t allowed to keep pots outside my new front door so they were deposited here by; what I now believe to have been, 3 quite tipsy removal men. These chirpy men; Bazza, Gary and a bloke with no name dropped, knocked and chipped just about everything but somehow this smuggled pot survived them and made it in alive. it’s heavy though, so I was never going to shift it. At the time, this was a stressful day, watching them dismantling a 27-year existence at one end, then piling it in a heap at the other, like the contents of Tutankhamun’s tomb. Now? Looking back, I think there’s probably a sitcom in there somewhere.
As it turned out, apart from pots at the front door, there’s quite a lot I’m not supposed to do here. I’m not supposed to hang pictures, we’re not supposed to keep our shoes on beyond the threshold and I’m not supposed to grow things against or along any outside walls unless there is an existing structure. To get around this, I’ve created a spider’s web of garden string to guide things away from said walls…but I still feel the eyes of the “pot police” burning, watching; waiting, while my everlasting sweet pea travels ever closer towards the edge of its brick confines; they’re ready to pounce when the first falling bloom becomes a health and safety hazard for anyone passing below. I see the chilling, Coroner’s report now “Death by Sweet Pea”. I’m gorilla growing a cucumber by the front door and nobody’s noticed. I’m also growing some emerald green mint, which is busy tumbling from one of the hanging baskets, because, I always think it’s important to include at least two ingredients for a Primms in your planting scheme.
I’m genuinely over the moon with how this balcony is progressing. Things have grown higher, further, thicker and greener, than first expected, and everything has produced far more flowers than I could ever have hoped for. A good example of this is the rose. Having said last month that my expectations about how far it would grow had been “too optimistic” …this month, I can say I wasn’t optimistic enough. I have roses! Lots of them, and, it’s busy joining up with the hanging basket above.
What I can’t share with you of course, are the wonderful scents that waft in every time I open the door or a window. In turn, these aromas have attracted a whole range of fragile little insects, by day bees and butterflies, in the warm, half-light of evening, ephemeral moths, attracted by the Jasmin; to slightly miss quote from the book of Kevin Costner,
“If you build it they will come”.
Also, the constant and gentle movement, as a passing, breeze brushes through everything, momentarily Lifting these visiting insects from their work, until such time as they can safely land. I’m constantly surprised at how plants seem able to spread, kinetic energy far beyond the physical space they occupy. In the end gardening is a form of alchemy; you throw the ingredients together imagining the results then, if you are lucky, there is a moment when they become more than their sum parts and create something you could never have imagined. But this intangible kinetic energy has brought me something more; it has brought me people: neighbours who, until now were strangers, stop to say hello and comment on the flowers. It has brought me closer to existing friends and reunited me with old ones. Opened up new vistas I could never have envisaged and have yet to explore, and has softened the edges of a life made temporarily sharp. Plants will do that.
Lessons? Yes some:
I shouldn’t get involved with carpentry.
I’m too lazy for topiary.
And looking back, I probably shouldn’t have put the lavender through this process. It’s supposed to be living in a sun-drenched field in province, not squidged into a gloomy corridor. It’s made a valiant effort, shooting out some fragile, white wands but inside you can see it’s bitter. At the end of the summer I will release it into the walled garden where it can grow near the bees.
Never any failures in gardening, only learning curves and happy happenstance.
A flash hail storm caught the exposed edge of the planter demolishing a couple of tender plants, but that’s not a failure… that’s just gardening.
Mixed planting and contents of hanging baskets
Hosta and ferns
White climbing Rose
Mediterranean Tiles: Seville Persian Blue.
Porcelain Super Store.
Antique wooden panel,
"Animal Dave" St Albans Market.
(best not to ask)