We Homo Sapiens are control freaks, it is hardwired into our DNA. We probably jumped down from the forests, strode onto the savanna and, with a keen eagle eye on the horizon, strode forth to order the wilderness. Over millennium we have controlled, confined and ‘tamed’ vast tracts of this global wilderness. We named, categorized and listed. The Doomsday Book has nothing on it. Those first could look around and see nothing but wilderness, now it has to be searched for. Unless you are lucky and still live next door to it.
If I am not quick I will no longer have to search.I know many of you live in places with ‘real wilderness’ with wildlife, from the tiny to the giant, that will slash, maim and kill unwary footfall, you may scoff at a Brit’s view of wilderness, but we have our own safer version. Some of it is now prepared for the last dash to overwhelm my garden.
I was ill last year, I ventured nowhere. It is not recommended to venture nowhere when there is a garden outside the window designed specifically to encourage wildlife. The planting and layout there for that reason. A ‘wild’ garden or ‘wildlife’ garden needs watching, needs a little work, needs tweaking.
When I did venture out this year to survey the damage of a year's neglect, a glorious wild abandonment of decorum had afflicted every plant present. Those who liked the wet weather and break from control have hit the grow chart running. Its a crazy patchwork piece. An OTT of exuberance and laughter. Listen and giggles and whispers of ‘I dare you’ will assail one’s ears. One half step away from a complete take over, a nudge away from a bloodless coup. I ventured in the nick of time.
The paths, where they have not vanished, are a quarter of their original size, as ‘wild flowers’ from each side leap across the divide. Velvet mats of moss deck the rest. The trees and shrubs mere twigs a decade ago, nice plants last year are, this year, monstrous in their height and breadth. They wave excitedly at the clouds. They sing with bird song and grin a ‘shucks ya boo’ at moi as I regard them thoughtfully. The wild bramble usually kept in check each year by severe pruning has rampaged in delight and, as compensation for the hours of blood soaked fight I will have to contend with this autumn, offers me so many of it’s sun-ripen fruit I will need the birds to finish the crop. The roses have joined forces with the raspberries, the strawberries have tried some canoodling with the sage.
I attempted to check out the official ‘wild garden’ however there is an impenetrable barrier of bramble and wild rose, blocking the gate, so I cannot tell what is happening around the ponds and bog. I did meet a giant of frog screeching in a wild unrestrained voice as he vented his dislike of younger cat. There are some mighty giants behind that barrier.
The Boston Ivy has been racing with the climbing hydrangea to see who will win the fence for themselves, the Boston ivy is cheating a little, I feel, in that it is spreading across the washing line area underfoot to reach the fence ahead of the hydrangea who is going by the rules and not touching the ground.
My timid, shy lurker of a wisteria has been fooling us all, scuffing in sullen silence in the shadows of the undergrowth it has in a moment - well it seems like a moment,quadrupled in size and now has a choking hold on its rival, the jasmine,and seems bent on a take over of the courtyard pond - dismissing ferns as a nuisance to be smothered to obscurity.
Slowly, oh so slowly, I have been advancing, heading off these striding triffids as they attempt to wrest control from me and return the land to dis-control. I have re-discovered the main paths. Tied in the climbers and creepers. Given many a much needed haircut. Picked the blackberries and begun the painful task of curbing it. Exercised some control over roses, straightened out the raspberries, separated strawberry from sage - what a beautiful scent lingered on my hands after that. Ditto as I pruned the rosemary and lavender. Can see the gate to the ‘wildlife garden’ soon maybe I’ll be able to open it and discover . . .what I wonder?
Sitting in the sunshine with an early morning cup of coffee, surveying peace and tranquility hasn’t been much on the menu this summer. However I can report the place is full of life, bees hum, butterflies flutter by and bedeck every surface,birds are busy busy raising a second brood and in the shadows creatures scuttle. All that is after all what I wanted.
I love my garden but. . .