Let's go outside!

April 23, 2018 by Ray Morgan

It's happened. I'm becoming a gardening bore. No baby, no puppy, no love for early morning seafront running - my timelines are brimming with plant photos instead. Reader, I'm obsessed.

When Jo and I first moved in together, we had an upstairs flat with a shared garden. We asked the estate agent which bit was ours; he told us which segment of grass out of 7 segments of grass we could use. It wasn't ideal, but we were young, naive and hopeful. We had tomato plants and herbs, and because there was no outside tap we carried watering cans down two flights of stairs to tend to the plants. I said we were young, naive and hopeful didn't I? Sadly for us, we had some horrible neighbours who a) stared out of their kitchen window at us menacingly and b) started shouting abuse at us. I've blocked most of it out but they definitely used the word "lezzers". We moved out, the plants died, end of story.

Next up: we moved into an upstairs flat with a shared garden. We tried again, but this time we had to go out into the street, down a side alley, and round the back to access the tiny plot. We gave up eventually, it was too much effort. The next flat we lived in was - yes, you've guessed it - upstairs, but there wasn't even a shared garden this time. The downstairs tenants somehow had ownership of both the front and back gardens, and I thought it didn't matter - I'm just one of those people who isn't into gardening.

My parents and sister are all keen gardeners and have enviable gardens and an allotment. My grandparents had gardens that were astonishingly lovely. I thought I hadn't inherited the gene. Summer days would have to be spent indoors in upstairs flats with a fan blasting cold air, or jostling for space on the beach. Flash forward to 2018 and I'm in Perrywood garden centre in Tiptree, asking my Dad which plants will do well in the different bits of my garden, choosing enormous pots and thinking we're probably going to need a second trolley.

On Sunday, Jo and I potted up all the new plants, moving things about in the garden, hanging up strings of solar lights and chimes in the trees. We had an epic lunch out there: a table and chairs in the shade on our patio, the table laden with a summery buffet, along with a jug of sparkly, fizzy lemonade tinkling with ice cubes. We sat down and ate, surveying the garden which, although very much a WIP, is still lovely to look at, and couldn't quite believe that we finally have a garden and that we're enjoying it so much. We tried to remember all the names of the plants we've got (Viburnum Kilimanjaro is difficult to forget) and talked about our plans of what to do out there next.

Amazingly, a tiny strawberry plant Jo bought a year ago at Hyde Hall had survived the cruel winter in a crappy pot, has grown well and is looking healthy as ever, promising fruit. It is such a new and mysterious world to me that it seems like magic.

This morning, I went out to water the garden, taking a cup of tea with me (tea in the garden is a new and brilliant thing for me), a breeze whispering in the trees and blackbirds noisily calling to each other. I resisted taking ANOTHER photo of the sherbet-pink camellia. I looked at all the shoots yet to come up, what surprises await us? Even after all this time, I still can't believe we're lucky enough to have a garden. All those years of not bothering, and not understanding what all the fuss is about. Now I think it's safe to say I definitely know what all the fuss is about.

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