Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Garden fear...

Of course going on holiday has its drawbacks. Whilst away you are not in your own bed (obviously), the strange bathroom taps are always confusing, the remote on the telly is different and hard to fathom, and the cooker never cooks like the one at home.

On top of all of this horrible difference I find myself wondering about the gas knobs and did I remember to put seed out for the birds and what about the fish? Yes, there are far too many things that are different or can go wrong with going away. But above all of these minor worries of gas explosion or fish death - and of deeply grave concern - is the garden.

Now as some of you may have realised I have gardening OCD. This means that my tiny little yard needs to be pristine and in top form for me to be comfortable with it at all times over the growing season. Sadly I need my holidays to expand my view of the world. My miniature garden is lovely but I need to look at something that might take me into a place more expansive which leads me away from my yard, and of course this brings on that terrible affliction that is known as 'Garden Fear'.

'Garden Fear' or 'Metum Hortus', to use its Latin name, is for us gardeners not to be scoffed at. It's not like a fear of spiders, flying, snakes, or other such silly things. It's terrible and binds many gardeners to their homes for years without a break from their tomatoes and lobelia. Not me though, I am a gardening chancer (yes, throw caution to the winds and live a little is my motto) so when I go away I forget all about my garden and trust to fate. Scrub that. When I go away I spend all my time worrying about my petunias and chives and place all of the responsibility for watering and maintenance on my daughter Holly.

Annoyingly I go away with a clear picture of exactly how each of the plants in my garden look and ideally when I get back I would like to see them in the same condition. Before I leave I carefully examine each of them and tell them not to worry because Holly is going to take care of you. Of course I am deluded. For one thing I don’t expect my plants to develop whilst I am away and secondly, I forget how as a 22 year old I didn’t give a toss about gardens. Drink, going out, having fun and sex were my main priorities and not lobelia – or is that lobelias plural?

Anyway, as I get older I find my obsessions taking me over and I can't really rest. Of course I like to call it focus, although my wife likes to call it: ‘Your silly habitual routines and stupid fixations’. She’s right of course. If I can’t poo at my regular time I worry and if I’m not near a radio when there's less than ten minutes to go before ‘The Archers’ begins I break into a cold sweat. This means that when I'm away I find myself checking the weather at home and if it's going to be warm praying for rain. I even find myself phoning Holly simply to ask if the plants are okay and quizzing her about specific ones. On returning home it's my first port of call and I immediately start watering and dead heading whilst tutting at how this has done and that has done.

To be fair Holly did a pretty good job. Not too many plants actually died whilst I was away and the only real casualty was my much loved and coddled hanging basket strawberry plant plus a few bits that only I would have noticed. Not a hundred percent, but a great deal better than the alternative which would probably have been garden Armageddon. I often find myself wanting a bigger garden to garden in. A space where I could have terracing and private areas screened from each other to create secret landscapes that I could drift through, one to the other, on a warm summer's evening. But who would do the watering when I was away? The thought of it makes me shudder.

Maybe I need a watering system.

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