Sunday, 14 August 2016

Gardens

I have a bit of a love hate relationship with gardens. I love sitting in them, hate working in them.
 
That's not always been the case. Years ago, when I first got married and we moved into a little house with a tiny back yard I asked the old couple next door if I could use part of their garden to grow vegetables.  They agreed readily to this arrangement, and, over the next few months, told me how much they were looking forward to the carrots, potatoes and beans that I'd promised to share with them. I tackled the vegetable patch with a great deal of enthusiasm, a huge amount of digging, a mountain of seeds and absolutely no skills or knowledge.
 
Needless to say, I think it gradually dawned on the old couple that they would probably be pushing up daisies before the promised bumper harvest was gathered.  One day their middle aged son appeared at the door to inform me that the gardening arrangement was causing his parents not a little stress, and he thought it best if I stuck to my own back yard in future.  Offended but somewhat relieved, I collected my spade, trowel and watering can and made the short journey back to our yard, head held high.
 
And there the story might have ended, had I not been married to somebody who was even less knowledgeable and skilled than his wife, and sadly didn't have the enthusiasm which might have made up for that.  The only things that grew in that back yard were four beautiful yellow rose bushes that had been there since Domesday, bloomed abundantly each year, and smelled as sweet as summer.
 
Every few months I used to pack up the children and take them to London on the train to see their grandparents.  Their dad stayed behind, ostensibly to work.  On one occasion I phoned home, only to be told the rose bushes had been removed to make the yard look neater. I was furious. I loved those rose bushes. They were part of summer. They WERE summer. I couldn't believe they had gone. I shouted and cried and left the Anti-Percy Thrower in no doubt that this misdemeanour would have serious consequences.
 
He didn't sound too worried, but when I returned I found four brown and wilted rose bushes exactly where I'd left them. On further investigation I discovered they were rootless and had obviously been rammed back into their tiny beds by an inexperienced and panicky hand.
 
Unlike the rose bushes, the husband survived - just.
 
When we moved house we were delighted and dismayed, in equal measure, to suddenly inherit a large garden with a huge lawn and flower beds. For the first ten years, with three young children and their friends, the lawn was soon known as Soweto Football Ground by all who played on her: a little grass in the middle and big bare patches around the makeshift goalposts at either end: dry and dusty in summer, thick with mud in winter.
 
Now, the mini footballers have flown the nest,  the grass has been seeded and tamed and the husband has passed his mowing test.  He is now let loose with the petrol mower. He is not allowed near the roses, although he was caught  in the act, quite recently, frantically chopping at a healthy flowering bush.
 
I decide more supervision is needed as I plump the cushions on my sunbed, settle back with a sigh and raise a cool drink to my lips...
 
The sign that mysteriously appeared in our garden one morning circa 1996
I thought this song by Lynn Anderson might be appropriate...
 
I Never Promised You a Rose Garden
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine there's gotta be a little rain sometime
When you take you gotta give so live and let live and let go oh oh oh oh
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
 
I could promise you things like big diamond rings
But you don't find roses growin' on stalks of clover
So you better think it over
Well, if sweet talking you could make it come true
I would give you the world right now on a silver platter
But what would it matter
So smile for a while and let's be jolly love shouldn't be so melancholy
Come along and share the good times while we can
 
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine there's gotta be a little rain sometime
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
 
I could sing you a tune and promise you the moon
But if that's what it takes to hold you I'd just as soon let you go
But there's one thing I want you to know
You'd better look before you leap still waters run deep
And there won't always be someone there to pull you out
And you know what I'm talking about
So smile for a while and let's be jolly love shouldn't be so melancholy
Come along and share the good times while we can
 
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine there's gotta be a little rain sometime...
 
I beg your pardon I never promised you a rose garden
Along with the sunshine there's gotta be a little rain sometime...
 
Thanks for reading, Jill Reidy.
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