Gardeners World isn't on this week and that makes me sad - and screw up my face a bit! Don't laugh. We've taken on a garden that the previous owners opened as part of the National Garden Scheme, so we've a lot to live up to. And we're just 'having a go'. And Monty won't be able to give us our jobs for the weekend!!
I can feel the panic rising because as 'bottom-of-the-rung-just-starting-out' amateurs, we NEED our jobs for the weekend... from an expert with a warm, calm voice, a chunky looking jumper and two lovely dogs! In fact, every time I go out to the garden or cut anything back (or so much as look at any plant) I hear another Gardeners World fave, Carol Klein, talking about "shoooots and leeeeaves and stemmms! (If you watched the last series of GW, you'll know I haven't completely lost the plot here).
When it comes down to it though, we don't really have anything to live up to or worry about at all. There's no need to panic because the beauty of gardening (and of spending time outside, pottering around in pyjamas and wellies, trying to grow stuff from seed, laughing when the bonfire gets a bit out of control, using a lawnmower for the first time, never being able to remember the Latin names of any of the garden plant residents) is that you take it at your own pace. You enjoy the peace of it all and the feeling of truly taking care of something a little bit magical. You learn as you go and that's part of the fun.
When we first moved in to our new home, we had a visit from one of our nearest neighbours. Admittedly, it was slightly odd because I'd just got out of the shower, so it was a 'shouting out of an upstairs window with my hair dripping all over the place' type of chat! Her out of the blue advice was:
"Don't try and compete with the previous owners on the gardening front. They were uniquely talented".
It made me laugh a bit! The thing I've discovered is that being in the garden, or growing anything at all, makes me feel completely calm and totally non-competitive for the first time in my life. There's not even a whiff of 'I must be better than the rest', so I can safely say I'll never strive to win the prize for best marrow, biggest carrot or tallest sunflower at any local fruit, veg or flowers contest :)
Gardening is a simple pleasure, whether you're growing strawberry plants on a windowsill or planning the Spring Garden at Longmeadow. I'm happy just knowing we're doing something we've never tried before... and when we come in from a bit of gardening in the early evening sunshine, we've got proper smiles on our flushed faces. In the words of Jeremy Naydler, who wrote the lovely little book of poems Soul Gardening:
In gardens of gold I live my days -
probably I'll never mend my ways.
Bright flowers the tapestry on which I bend,
it is my ease to tend the plants:
it is my happiness.
Well... unless someone's got a better onesie or gardening pyjamas than me, obviously! I'm the only Pyjama Gardener in the village, thank you! ;)