Saturday, 9 July 2011

A slightly unexpected satisfaction

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I’ve never really understood the posterity thing. After all, one is dust; the worms are at one’s bones. I suppose it would be nice if someone were reading my books years after I had shuffled off, but my guess is it will not concern me much, since I shall have no consciousness with which to appreciate it. Mostly, I would like people to read them now.

On the other hand, I like the idea of leaving things, not so my name shall be remembered, but so some human I have never met, in some distant future, shall appreciate the thing itself. This is why I love planting trees.

My little garden has long been a source of both pleasure and pain. When I first made it, I got very excited. I listened religiously to Gardeners’ Question Time; I fell helplessly in love with Bob Flowerdew, partly because of his gravelled voice, and partly because anyone with a name like that must command love; I bought all the books.

Then I realised that I was not terribly interested in horticulture itself. I found some of it dull, and some of it confusing. I grew panicky about the right time to prune, or what one was supposed to do with cuttings. The ground elder mocked me, ruthlessly. I decided I was no damn good at the thing, and felt ashamed.

But miraculously, the garden went on growing, despite my periods of neglect and my wide spaces of ignorance. Things got a bit wild and leggy; there was a vicious fight between the elders and the salix; this summer, I only just rescued one of my favourite Japanese cherries from death by lilac. (The lilac had to be hacked back, and actually seems much the better for it.)

This year, I got some help. It turns out I cannot do everything by myself. So now a kind Belgian lady arrives each week, and knows what to do. I follow her around rather vaguely saying things like: No variegated leaves; and, Do you think we should do something about the ivy? Because I now have someone with actual knowledge, I no longer have to beat myself up for my own foolishness. It does not matter that there are many horticultural mysteries I shall never solve. I can do some weeding and admire the astrantias with no crashing shame.

It is not a great garden. There is no Gertrude Jekyll here. People will not be rushing to photograph it. But I love it, and each week it looks prettier and prettier. I realise I have been looking at it the wrong way round. I used to castigate myself for its imperfections. Now I think: I made a garden. (Sometimes, I actually say this out loud, in a voice of slight amazement.)

There was nothing, and now there is something. There are gaps and muddly bits, and places where things have got out of control, but none of that matters. I am looking at the loveliness, rather than the faults. And one day, when I am gone and forgotten, someone else shall sit in it, and look at the rowan trees and the apple blossom and the winter-flowering viburnum and feel pleased that someone, whose name they do not know, planted them.

For some reason, this makes me happier than I can say. Posterity, schmosterity.


Today, it was raining so hard that the Pigeon actually refused to go outside. She must have wanted a walk, but she took one look at the monsoon, and actually shook her head. This made me laugh quite a lot. So there are no photographs from this day, but here are some from the last couple of weeks:

A lone lavender:

9 July 1

A single salvia:

9 July 8

This geranium has just come into flower:

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A delphinium in the wild corner, seen through the ferns:

9 July 11

This is a post-flowering geranium, rather exotic in close-up:

9 July 12

More salvia, of which I never tire:

9 July 13

Delphinium getting ready to flower:

9 July 14

Very happy-looking lavender:

9 July 14-1

And, beyond the walls, out in the open spaces, this is what it looks like:

9 July 3

9 July 5

9 July 5-1

And, for your viewing pleasure, my most beloved Pigeon. She is being particularly sweet at the moment. She has got her boundiness back. I feared that after her sister died it had gone for good. I thought she would sink into sad old age. But she has more mettle than that, and she has got her joie de vivre back:

9 July 11-1

9 July 21

If I were only slightly more fanciful than I am, I would believe it is because of all the love she gets from the Dear Readers. However, as I am a strict rationalist, I cannot permit this whimsical thought. A: she is a dog. B: love cannot transmit itself in any corporeal sense through the blogosphere. Perhaps though, as it is the weekend, I can allow myself ten minutes of magical thinking, as a treat.

Have a lovely weekend.


  1. Oh, go on, indulge! Allow yourself an HOUR of magical thinking! (Or more...)
    The Beach Boys didn't sing about "Good Vibrations" for nothing! (Here I show my age, mindset & disregard for any decent kind of sentence structure! Ah me!)
    My garden exists IN SPITE OF me (since I've done next to nothing in it in the past three years). There are still wonderful surprises: wandering fox gloves, persistent aquilegias/ Columbines & the best buy I ever made -- thanks to Alan Tischmarsh's advice in a column in some old TV guide -- a winter-flowering honeysuckle. This lonicera fragrantissima was only supposed to be a meter and a half high. It's up to the second floor & covered with gardenia like scented white flowers from January 'til spring. The scent hits you coming up the walk. Wonderful!


  2. Pat - LOVELY. Shall now think of Beach Boys and wafting scents for the rest of the day.

  3. Beautiful words and pictures as always. Have a lovely weekend. x

  4. Oh … ground elder. Mine actually flowered while I was at the writing workshop. It’s never got that far before. Too bad. We all loved the workshop. It was a great week.

    Tania, you have fans.

  5. I want to do more with my garden, it is thoroughly neglected, filled with old furniture and at the mercy of the dreaded bind weed. You've actually inspired me to get my hands dirty again and see if I can coax some life back into it.

    I also love that the Pigeon actually shook her head at the thought of leaving the house. Wonderful.

  6. There was no internet connections in Rosella where I go for the weekend and hence this is coming in rather late.

    I also garden in exactly the same way and have been having doubts about what I am doing. I can now safely sit back and just admire and leave the work to Mailu who knows exactly what he is doing.


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