The accidental gardener 188



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Back garden flowers1

I can kill any houseplant in a very short space of time; of course I am not proud of that, but give me a scrubby, barren patch of soil and I immediately start planning how it could look with plants of my choice.

IF I can afford the plants I would like, IF I can get my body to co-operate without protest. IF I can find spare time when I am working on other projects and community things, as painting and writing is still part of life.

When we moved here there were some beautiful native trees, a lemon tree and two apple trees. At the back there was an expanse of grass and a raised bed which was scruffy and devoid of any plants, save a weed or two. The raised garden became my first challenge; by the end of that year I had my garden. I bought cottage garden plants, scattered poppies, and grew clumps of white daisies – my dream was soon a reality. With my English background I also grew lavender, hollyhocks and delphiniums. Ground cover meandered about, it was bliss. Almost all the things I planted that first year or so survived and thrived. I hated the fact that the house had very few plants around it, so I had to have baskets and pots to soften the image, and clumps of lavender to brush past. I love the scents and the sights of growing things.

We also tried growing beans, corn and carrots. Tomatoes just came up without our help. But since those heady first days, the battle has commenced. I grew a grey plant called wormwood and it has often taken over; I have about five dotted around and the silvery fronds mock me as they grow so fast. Then there was the wayward honeysuckle which grew into a huge shrub and nearly covered the veranda. Daisies and a mallow plant grew like trees. I hate cutting things down and resist even when my husband tells me they should go. I was forced to cull some of the grey plants and a pink flowering shrub yet I have a sneaking admiration for the tenacity of some plants. Like the burned Rhododendron, which was seared in the bush fires, blackened leaves yet still it flowered. I did a painting of it. The beauty of my haphazard gardening is I find things I forgot struggling in the jungle. So I nurture them like a beloved pet, I have a rose being nursed and a battle weary Jacaranda trying to force out some leaves in this cold place.

Yet this year has seen the demise of so many of our trees, sadly lost about five and now have a huge cleared patch waiting for me. Two apple trees rotted at the base, and keeled over in the storms. I have plans and, thanks to my wonderful daughter and a friend who helped, have areas I can start again making into the beauty I see in my head. It might happen, I can dream as I look at gardening books and wish I could magically make it a reality. I love being outdoors, so look forward to a long summer of work and pleasure. From my childhood I remember a poem that started …”A garden is a lovesome thing”…It will be one day again.

Here are some more photos of Jacqui’s garden! Tell us, what do you love to grow in your garden?



Jacqui Lee

Jacqui Lee is 75 and now retired but the last ten years or so have been some of her busiest. She worked at a hospital, where she took several Certificated courses, she cleaned a school, helped to run two conventions, wrote short stories, started painting, and in fact is never bored even now, "I honestly feel we are lucky to still be upright and breathing, and my motto is, Remember yesterday, dream of tomorrow, but live today. I love fun, clothes, food and friends."

  1. Wow! I admire you Jacqui. I love gardening and I also have created gardens from scratch while working full time. For me it was a not only an opportunity to get out in the open air after being cooped up inside, but it gave me great pleasure to create beauty. I also recommend it to people who have problems sleeping. After a hard day’s gardening you’ll be completely knackered and will sleep like a log

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