I visited my mum and dad last week for the first time since, I think, February. Though we chat on the phone, it is not the same and this is the longest it has been without seeing each other since I lived in London. After the mandatory tea and buns we got down to the real business, wandering round Mum’s garden to see what she has been up to. It was immaculate! Lockdown cabin fever has definitely driven Mum into the garden even more than usual (hard as that is to imagine).
Mum is ever generous with her plants, so wandering round her garden I see lots of plants from my own, but I must admit that Mum’s are larger and healthier. They are sitting alongside the ones I can’t, for the life of me, get to thrive at Ruthven (mainly the ericacious ones like rhododendrons, meconopsis and crinodendron and other fikey plants that need personal care and attention and specialist compost). The most striking thing though is that not a half centimetre is wasted. There is little path up the back of the border and under the shrubs that you have to traverse like one of the seven dwarves on account of the overhanging branches. It is studded with gem like shade lovers and the path is made of stones dug out whilst weeding. No step or seat goes without a pot or five (they all have to be moved when Keith delivers the shopping as he strongly disapproves of trip hazards. As soon as he’s gone they are back). Clematis, wisteria, akebia and loads of other climbers are into everything, climbing out of pots and old mangles, scrambling over each other, onto the shed and into the trees. There’s even a two tier pond shoehorned in at the back of where the outside loo used to be. On her kitchen window mum has the worlds only perennial tomato. We gave it to her last year and it has fruited constantly since, she isn’t even feeding it…….
Some of the plants in Mum’s garden (and now also in mine) originally came from Nana and Papa’s garden, or even my own Granny’s. The names of the varieties are long lost, but my garden now sports Papa’s hemerocallis and Granny Cowe’s aconitum and lilies. I even have two chunks of a plant Mum and I both know only as Uncle George. I suspect it is some sort of low growing polemonium but I haven’t checked – it will always be Uncle George to me. This seems a family trait as Mum once spent ages looking up suppliers for a plant variety called Jimmy Cassidy that Papa used to grow. She was fairly disgusted to find out after much fruitless research that it has been donated to Papa by one James Cassidy esquire.
I left taking a box of small plants Mum had grown for me from cuttings, plus a few extra cuttings swiped off her mauve deutzia on the way past. I have also passed on my recommendations as to the plants in her border which are now “too big and need splitting” (and the spare bits therefore donated to yours truly). However, finally I was able to return the favour a little – I donated back a few plants which were originally given to me by Mum but which, in a fit of spring cleaning, she had accidentally eradicated. We are now acting as mutual plant accident insurance.