For many years I have known that even a #agreenthumbedgardenerstillrequiresmuscle and I needed it again this week. The lovely archway that my son Greg made as a gift for me three Christmases ago had a distinct lean and I called upon the same son to set it to rights again.
This turned into more heavy gardening chores which he was able to help me get done.
Gardening, a Passion or a Chore?
Gardening became a passion for me when my Dad allowed each one of his children a small patch of his vegetable garden in Redcliff. We were given slips of geranium, and nasturtium, beans, and loofah seeds to plant. Waiting for the seedlings to appear seemed to take forever but the excitement when they did, was tremendous.
There is nothing like picking the produce from your own garden. What fun we all had.
None of us ever thought of gardening as a chore which was a blessing as we have had many gardens to plant and care for over the years.
We had to make sure our little patch was kept weed free and watered. Both my sister and I became mad about gardening. Dad’s enthusiasm, and Mom’s for that matter, rubbed off on us.
Right Hand Severed
My loyal and wonderful gardener, Elliott, who worked alongside me, for 17years died earlier this year and it honestly felt as though I had lost my right hand. It was devastating as he was part of my life and that of my family for so long. He knew exactly what I wanted to be done in the garden and how I wanted it done.
Most of the time we worked together but if I needed to go out, I knew that Elliott would not let me down. I have yet to see anyone so meticulous, besides my Dad, with the clean up at the end of the day.
At around 3 pm I would say to Elliott that he could get ready to go home but then the big tidy up would begin and by 5 or 6, I would drive him to the station to get the train home. He refused to leave until he was satisfied with everything he wanted to get done, was done.
After The Big Move From our Home to Broadwalk Mews
When Matthew and I moved to Broadwalk Mews, which is a Retirement Village, I asked Elliott if he would like to come and help me with the garden here.
He was only too willing and between the two of us, we changed the garden, not only the two little allotments I was given to care for but, also took on the care and design of the main garden.
Naturally, we had to stay within the bounds of the rules and regulations of the Home.
We had to take into consideration that people in wheelchairs and other residents, would require shady places in which to sit.
Making Changes to any Garden Takes Time and Energy
We could not take over all the garden for planting swathes of plants would need constant care and watering, especially with the water situation in the Cape.
Later on a good friend of mine, Doris helped me, as my husband needed more attention, and eventually, he had to go into the frail care section.
Due to time issues, Doris has now taken over the care of the main gardens which is such a help to me as during the drought we have been having it would have entailed me carrying bath water a good distance which is backbreaking.
Living in an upstairs flat didn’t help with that task either.
There are two hose pipes connected to the Grey water from the home which she uses, moving the sprinklers where they are required to keep the garden going.
It has been quite a great commitment on behalf of Doris.
Elliott worked for us in the main garden and in Doris and my gardens until the day before he died. His loss has been greatly felt. This quiet, hardworking man was a star, in our eyes.
Green Thumbs Plus…
- Knowledge of plants and their requirement
- love of plants
- good composting (preferably organic)
- feeding and watering
- Knowledge of Garden Design and Planning
- Making necessary changes according to climate change
- Not being scared of hard work
- One of the most important things for me is a good pair of gardening gloves. (I loathe having the soil get under my nails or even feel it on my hands. (need to keep my thumbs green, after all, don’t I?)
All these things are necessary to make for successful and happy gardening and plants that will thrive even in the harshest conditions.
Drought Conditions Brought with it Changes
We have had to change our style of gardening in the Cape due to the drought condition and water restrictions. All our taps were secured and we carted water from the washing up, the water from the shower went into a baby bath etc. to our poor perishing plants.
A number of the residents here at Broadwalk Mews had Water Storage Tanks (JoJo Tanks) installed at their own cost. This has made a big difference.
The installation of a Water Storage Tank required one to have a downpipe leading into your own garden.
Unfortunately, that was not possible for me so I continued to cart water downstairs until it became too difficult for my poor back.
As I have had one spinal fusion, I certainly didn’t want to end up with more back problems.
To the rescue came my dear friend Doris.
Many of the residents of the Mews have taken out some of the lawn and put in pavers which helps with the layout of their gardens, and the rainwater (when it comes) and when watering the garden, the water runs off onto the remaining lawn.
Many Changes at the Nurseries
The plants bought at the nursery now are mostly indigenous or at least water wise.
Not many beautiful roses and lush lawns, and delicate English styled gardens around now.
However, a number of wonderful aloes and other succulent plants have come to the fore and it is amazing for our bird life.
Commissions by Design
Quite a number of the gardens I have been commissioned to design and plant up in the past have been indigenous gardens which I have really loved doing as to attract the bird life in the area.
Now and then have had requests for more formal gardens and some people have color preferences. It all depends on what the client wants and keeping them happy.
My Happy Place
My own preference is a bird-friendly, indigenous garden with lots of trees, shrubs which flower and berry to feed the insects and birds.
I kept a record of the bird life that visited my previous garden and had 33 different species visiting regularly, in the season of course. It was so exciting when a new arrival would make its appearance.
There was nothing lovelier than awakening to the sound of bird calls right outside my bedroom window.
The first thing I did when I woke up was to open my curtains wide so that I could watch the birds in the plants outside. They must have become used to seeing me in my nightwear.
The small stream I created, leading into a pond drew many visitors of the wild kind. Dragonflies and damselflies would be up and down protecting their territory.
Skinks (a type of lizard) would sun themselves on the beautiful, carefully chosen and collected rocks in and along the sides of the stream.
I drive by the old house to look at the garden and see that not much has changed.
It was really the garden which sold the house and I am so pleased as I know that the new owners love it as much as I.
The water restrictions have been lifted to some extent. Now able to water with a bucket but from the tap downstairs on a Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for an hour, before 9 am or after 6 pm for one hour per day. No more lugging a bucket downstairs. Thank heavens.
It has been tough seeing fully grown trees dying due to the drought. Perhaps now that we have had a bit of rain again, all will be well.
Just as every garden its own particular character, so does the gardener.
This makes gardening so much fun and I find other gardeners are always so keen to share what they are busy with, their great ideas, and what has worked for them.
We are truly passionate people.
If you have a Garden Club in your area, Please tell me about it. If you don’t have one, I would encourage you to begin one and just see what enormous fun to you can have, and how much you can learn.
However much fun you have in your garden or through your Garden Club, never forget that #agreenthumbedgardenerstillrequiresmuscle.
If you don’t have an obliging son, you may need to recruit a gorgeous hunk to help you. Wouldn’t that be fun?
It would be lovely to hear all about your gardening trials, tribulations, and of course the joy and satisfaction you have gained by gardening.