There is a flower border around the block of flats that I have moved into. It is supposed to be maintained by the landlord, but although the residents pay for the upkeep of the garden, the landlord doesn’t keep it tidy.
It beckons me over, with its ill-pruned shrubs and overcrowded crocosmia, its badly positioned Cerinthe.
The garden was not created from love, but purely to give the residents something
reasonably attractive to look at.
Over the years efforts have been made to pull out the weeds and keep it tidy, but nobody has ever tried to make it the most beautiful flower border in this town.
It would be unfair to call it ugly. It contains some quality shrubs, and although they would not have been my choice, I’m sure I can work around them.
As I pull out my hand-fork and secateurs I think about the creeping buttercups, the unwanted wild garlic and the dock. I think about the gaps that they will leave, and what I could plant to replace them. My fingers itch.
The garden is in a promonent position. People walk past it all day long. They will watch me, talk to me and about me. They will ask me what I am doing. They may even try to give unwanted advice.
I will feel intimidated – embarrassed.
They will slow me down with their friendly talk.
After a while they will begin to see the difference. They will utter sounds of surprise and praise me.
I gave away my rake, spade and fork. I will need to replace them. I will need something to put the weeds into.
There are people with special educational needs who live in this block of flats. I could try to enlist their help and teach them as they work.
I will plant Echinacea, Veronica and Salvia, and lavender to attract butterflies and bees. I will put in self-seeding poppies and foxgloves. I’ll have blocks of Scabious, Cornflower, Snapdragons and Wallflowers – lots of old-fashioned planting to please the elderly residents.
I will reserve an area near the main entrance for rosemary, chives, sage, oregano and thyme. I’ll sink a bucket into the soil and plant mint. The residents will have fresh herbs for culinary use.
Tomorrow I will talk to the House Supervisor about the tools I will need.
Next week I will begin the work.
© Jane Paterson Basil