Four Garden Centres and a bamboo tree…

In our new spot in Dove Lane we now have a bit of outside space. We had previously downsized to an apartment which was very pleasant and practical, but as time went on we missed having a garden more and more.

It would be pushing it a bit to call our outside space a garden, but believe me, we value the small decked area at the back of the house, and the tiny grassed area at the front, more than the acres we may have had in the past. And don’t let me forget the path at the side of the house which is lined with shrubs and bushes. Oh and the patch by the parking space. As my dad sometimes says..’we don’t know ourselves’.

The only thing that has bothered us since moving in, is that the walled, decked area at the back of the house looks decidedly bare. One solitary shed, a bit of slippery decking and a brick wall, does not a garden make.  So today we took some time off from painting and decorating and spent some time planning our new oasis. I visualised greenery covering all the walls; creeping tendrils of ivy tenderly clinging in all the right places, flowers spilling out over newly placed troughs and perhaps an artfully placed wrought iron bench.

I was excited to make a start and himself was quite keen too, so we set off after breakfast and hit the first garden centre. Cue the first downpour of the day. Undaunted I put up my hood and walked around the area set aside for small trees and bushes. I was quite taken with a eucalyptus tree; the leaves had a lovely way of catching the light as they fluttered in the breeze/howling wind/horizontal rain. Himself was lost in a maze of fruit bushes which he was eying up for the allotment. He did quite like my suggestion of the eucalyptus but we both stared at tree wondering how we would get it in the mini. Also, was it exactly what we needed?

We returned to the warmth of the car. ‘Let’s move on,’ said himself. I nodded.

At the next garden centre we averted our eyes from the coffee shop and pressed on; hoods up again. Peering through the droplets of rain on my spectacles, I looked at the pretty hellebores (suitable for our shady side area) and searched for the new variety which, I had learned from a talk recently at a flower club, would not be prone to drooping. I couldn’t really tell if they were drooping or not, so went and found himself who was wondering if he preferred variegated holly or bay trees. Not sure if we had found what we wanted, we moved on.

After a slight diversion for lunch and a trip to the jewellers to pick up himself’s watch that had been repaired, we moved on. Again.

This time we were pleased. The rain had stopped. We were able to peruse at out leisure. More than that, I walked down a row of bamboo trees and stopped and listened to them rustling contentedly in the breeze and felt right at home. Himself agreed bamboo would work well so we set about choosing the tree we wanted. It reminded me of choosing a Christmas tree. We whittled it down to six possibles and lined them up for inspection. Lots of hmm’s and intakes of breaths ensued. It took a while to agree on which one we should take home, just like at Christmas. Big discussions took place regarding bushiness and balance and whether there were enough new shoots and did it lean too much to one side? Eventually a decision was made. Then we needed a pot. Forward another half hour and we had paid and loaded the car.

The suggestion of one more stop before home went down surprisingly well with himself who was rapidly turning into a gardening expert and coming out with quite technical gardening terms and muttering about soil quality.

This time our thoughts turned to troughs to place either side of our newly acquired tree. Up and down we walked, weighing up sizes and styles, wood versus stone. After an hour we decided garden centre fatigue had set in. The toughs would have to wait for another day.

At home in the fancifully named ‘walled garden’ we placed our bamboo tree, now in its smart new pot, in pride of place. We both sighed. With delight. It was meant to be there, and was soon happily settled, spreading its slender branches against the shelter of the wall.

We went inside and drank tea but couldn’t resist looking out now and again. We haven’t quite reached the total look we yearn for yet; it will take a while to fill the space, but we have made a start.

I read that in China, bamboo is regarded as one of the ‘four gentlemen’ (bamboo, orchid, plum blossom and chrysanthemum) and plays an important role in Chinese culture. Countless poems praising bamboo and its gentlemanly traits, featuring uprightness, integrity and elegance have been written apparently. I rather like that.

Blessings to you and happy gardening.