My garden inheritance from Shirley

21:10, Apr 25 2012

I've talked a lot about the weeds that we've inherited with this section, the vast expanses of agapanthus, and the wandering willie carpet in the avenue. I haven't even mentioned the convulvulus, the oxalis, the ivy, and the bank of horror that I have blinkers about. 

What I haven't talked about is the plants we've inherited that we do like. The front garden, the one closest to the street, forms a border with our neighbours' and gets the best sun of all the section. It's full of rather old-fashioned plants - rhododendrons that have grown leggy, two lavender bushes, a dwarf hydrangea, dahlias and a hebe. It's the part of the garden where I get flowers when we have guests and where the trusty assistant goes to explore. Because this patch gets such great sun, and we have so many places that don't, the urge to turn it into an edible garden is strong. I did clear out a patch that was overgrown and grow my tomatoes there over summer, and some dahlias have been sacrificed to a lemon tree. But the other day I was out there cutting flowers to put in my mum's room while she's staying with us, and thought about the woman who planted them and why it's important to keep them.

I often come across Shirley in the garden. Every now and then, I'll find an old plastic label from a punnet she's planted out, or a piece of pantyhose where's she's staked something. I sometimes use the dried blood fertiliser she left in the garage, and the saucers she had under some pots I use for slug traps. From what her daughter told me, she didn't do much gardening in her later years, and much of the garden reflects that. But this front garden is thriving. I've taken cuttings of the lavender and grown more plants, I've hacked at some of the rhodos to make them less leggy, to give room for the daphne to spread out. We've cut back the jasmine to let other plants thrive. I would like to think she'd approve. I would like to think that for all her beloved agapanthus plants we've taken out, the trees we've removed to let in more light, I've been able to propagate plants from her garden to spread a little of her love around. They're a gift she's left us. 

Did your garden come with a history? What stories does your garden tell you? 

Follow me on Twitter.