It Must Be Spring

Over the last five or six weekends we’ve had the landscaper in to replace the retaining wall – the one our neighbours arranged to have fixed when the new fence went in, but the fencers did a shoddy job of it, reusing the old rotting boards at the bottom where we couldn’t see them. Turns out our neighbours were disappointed with the job, but never did anything about it. And they never told us they weren’t happy. At least, not until I had to go over there to get permission for the landscaper to work on their side if he needed to.

Because the landscaper had to do nearly all of the work from the high side and there’s a fence in the way, he couldn’t use a mechanical post hole digger. It’s taken three or four times longer than it ought to (and there’s been no offer from the neighbours on contributing to the cost). But after seven years of waiting for this to be fixed, I was finally able to plant out the bed without worrying about it washing away.

I filled it with several kinds of lavender and lots of 30 year old rose bushes re-homed from the garden of our friends’ parents, who will be building a house on their old rose garden.

I also got the landscaper to remove the ginger plants down the back, because it grows faster than we can keep up to now that I have RSI. I like it, but it constantly crowds the young maple tree, and I’d rather keep that than the ginger. We replaced it with more roses:

Before this, I had got to the point of thinking that an inner city apartment with a small courtyard garden might be in my future. I used to like the idea when I was in my early 20s, but once I had a house of my own I couldn’t imagine not having a back yard. But then my back problems started, and now that my hands have gone all finicky about what I do with them the idea of an apartment appeals again, so long as I have room for a small herb garden, a lemon or lime tree and a collection of pot plants.

But in the last week, with Paul’s help, I got some work done. We’ve weeded the front garden and the cat run bed, put the old compost out on the back garden bed and started a new batch, sprayed the driveway and given everything a good dose of seaweed fertiliser.

Of course, tidying up meant I noticed pot plants that needed repotting and herbs that needed replacing. I dusted off a three tier pot stand for the herbs, and got all inspired by the the idea of turning my Pa’s rusty old workbench into a garden seat. Next thing I was at Bunnings reflecting that what I’d read once – that gardening is the hobby Australians spend the most money on – must be true.

Of course, the pots weren’t cheap. Especially the big one I needed to save the badly pot-bound umbrella tree I’d adopted from an old neighbour of my previous house:

I should have repotted it a few years ago, but I am keeping it semi-bonsai-ed deliberately to control it’s growth. The three long pots have cherry tomatoes, basil, chives, garlic chives, curly parsley and flat leaf parsley, and the bottom one has runners from my peppermint herb. I got Paul to fill up the hollow under the rims with silicone to prevent snails napping under there.

There’s still more work to do, and I’m hoping we’ll get it done tomorrow. The landscaper has some drainage to install and more weeding and mulching to do. I’m hoping to persuade Paul to tackle the workbench garden seat conversion – into which will go two big square pots that I’ll plant out with aloe vera and some hanging succulents. I have some tough Aussie native grasses needing to be separated into smaller plants to plant where we reverse and turn our cars. And Paul really needs to get around to feeding and mowing the lawn.

I don’t know whether it was needing to tidy a few things up so the landscaper could spread the mulch, or the scent of early flowering plants, or the sun coming up a bit earlier, or the effect of more than half a day of sunlight, but I’m suddenly more interested in gardening than I have been in two years. I hope my enthusiasm doesn’t disappear as fast as it materialised!