In any garden, change is the only constant.
Monty Don on
Recently I wrote this in a book post.
My family and other dogs
by Monty Don
English writer/English setting
This is the year that Monty Don has come into our lives. Britbox began offering the English television program Gardeners' World. It is one of the best shows I've ever seen. Monty Don is the warm, calm, reassuring, enthusiastic, humble host. I bought two of his books, follow him on Instagram, and am also watching some other shows he has done via Netflix. Wonderful how we can get these programs over here now! Nigel is his aging Golden Retriever. He and a younger Golden, Nell are the real stars of Gardeners' World. Don writes about the other dogs in his life, telling a bit about his own life in the bargain. Really wonderful. I loved it.
Honestly, this man has changed my life just by showing up every week on my television. He has encouraged me to get back into serious gardening.
In 2009 we made the decision to go with raised beds. The first post about them is here. They were fine for a while, but the wood began to rot, it wasn't easy to mow right up to them so that involved the extra work of using the big trimmer along each side, which wasn't easy because it might hit the wood.
Eventually we removed them, and put flowers in the areas where the raised beds were. I think we went a year without growing vegetables. And then I wrote about the new idea of a terrific garden right beside the patio/entranceway.
It has worked well, but was very crowded. Last year it felt like outdoor clutter with stuff all over the place. In the fall we made a lot of changes. We decided the patio garden would be just flowers, not a combination of flowers and vegetables. We transplanted iris, peonies, daylilies, aquilegia, and others into that garden. We also planted daffodils across the road - all varieties that we heard about from Monty; Bath's Flame, Ice Follies, and Thalia - 30 in all. This whole area is now full of daffs.
Early in the year we had taken up the flowers that were in the former raised beds on the lawn and put in 6 raspberry plants - those little sticks that you see.
And then a couple weeks ago, I found myself saying to Tom that I wanted what I called a "real" vegetable garden, a big garden with rows. I want to grow tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, leeks, onions, peas, corn, potatoes, basil, parsley, cabbage, garlic. It will not be off the kitchen, where the raspberries are and which is the fenced in yard for Lucy. Instead it is going to go just beyond the daffodils, in that open area past the clothesline.
Yes, it will be work, but it is good work. I need exercise. Walking just doesn't happen every day no matter my good intentions. And fresh vegetables at the Co-op or at farmers' markets are not cheap. The plan is to have the rows between vegetables wide enough that the Mantis can till there, and remove weeds, so the only weeding I'll have to do is between plants.
I think a lot about what I call "subtraction". I read so much about people my age scaling down, going smaller, getting rid of things. Well, I don't want to do that. I want to add; add a vegetable garden, add a second or third dog in a few years. We don't have the money to travel, but we are lucky, lucky to have family close by. We are lucky to have a home and animals. We are lucky to so far be healthy except for this knee of mine. PD James has a book that she wrote when she was 77 (which I plan to read when I turn that age), called Time to Be in Earnest. Well, the title is what I want to do now. If not now, then when? I want my grandchildren to see us as vigorous vegetable growers. I've always thought the best death was Marlon Brando as the Godfather dying in his tomato patch. Though I wouldn't want the grandchildren seeing it, as happened in the movie!
Gardeners' World and Monty Don have changed me and influenced me. I am quite positive that show is why I have this new plan. This season Frances Tophill
shared an allotment with a young fellow, and their enthusiasm for fresh, right out of the garden food made me miss what was always such a part of me. I'll be forever grateful that Britbox brought this program to the US.