Having burnt my legs in the extensive ornamental jardins of the parental chateau last time there was a bank holiday weekend, I find myself coveting a garden of my own. Or more likely the idea of a garden if I’m honest, as I have to admit to little interest and less skill when it comes to the grubby business of actually being responsible for growing living things. Cats I can just about manage, as they more or less grow themselves and don’t need much weeding, but the idea of spending weekends mulching the compost heap doesn’t fill me with earthy back-to-the-land satisfaction.
All of which is just as well really, as in order to acquire any viable outdoor space I would have to move to a bigger house, thereby reattaching myself to the financial ball and chain which is a mortgage. Bugger that. I shall just have to take advantage of weekends at the château, where the gardening staff do an admirable job of keeping the grass neat and supplying homegrown strawberries.
But in a bid not to be a complete flat-dwelling townie I have made efforts with pots on the balconies, though my one attempt at long term horticultural commitment in the shape of a rhododendron came a cropper during last winter’s Siberian cold snap, which finished it off entirely, presumably by freezing its roots off.
Having learned my lesson there, I am now restricting my vegetational husbandry to spider plants inside the house (since these are so tough they might as well be made of plastic) and ephemerals such as herbs and the inevitable geraniums out on the balconies. So far I have even remembered to move the right-hand tray of gernaiums when it rains so that they don’t drown in the water feature created by the broken guttering. Yes thank you, I know it’s been like that for three years and I should do something more sensible about it than just play chess with the geraniums.
Leaving aside the thing with the guttering, I have been far more conscientious than usual about the whole business, going so far as to start by rootling through the compost in order to assess whether or not I should replace it with new and presumably nutrient-packed dirt in a bid to give my basil the best start in life. I’m not at all sure why I imagined digging about in it with my hands was going to give me an answer to that question, now that I think about it.
Still, it did in fact give me some idea as to the advisability of putting edible plants in there, as the foul pong emanating from the pots as soon as I was up to my elbows in there would strongly suggest that certain furry residents have spent the winter using my limited growing space as an extra litter tray. Possibly the most distressing aspect of this is that I have never caught them at it, as watching something the size of Eric balancing on the edge of a flower pot and trying to aim his bum for the middle would almost be worth my ending up covered in cat wee and worse.
I coud just about forgive them this behaviour in the winter, when otherwise convenient toilet spots are either frozen solid or covered in snow, but a combination of the sorry state of this summer’s basil plus a suspicious niff leads me to believe that they might have got used to the extra ensuite. The dilemma is that the chives are growing like triffids on it – maybe I should leave them to it and install a further pot for the basil. Preferably in a hanging basket.