When you have a big garden you can’t tend to anymore

As gardeners we are all guilty of thinking we are invincible and our strength and flexibility will “outlive” the gardens

As gardeners we are all guilty of thinking we are invincible and our strength and flexibility will “outlive” the gardens we create. I doubt many are thinking of their future years while digging garden beds. Fact is we all feel invincible when we are young and gardening is enjoyable with few things being too difficult to handle. We never think about later life and how we will have to pace ourselves because of “gardener’s back” plus keeping hedges and shrubs trimmed and trees under control will become a lot of work.

If Mum had put more thought into everything she wanted planted in her gardens, I would not be struggling to keep up with it all now. But even at the age of 70 she was still as fit as a mallee bull! She was into everything; she enjoyed making her own cement garden gnomes. I remember at one stage she had 150 with every one of them being painstakingly handpainted. Laying pavers, along with mowing, was a walk in the park. She drove from Queensland across the Nullabor to Perth when she was 80 and took the “scenic route” home via Adelaide and Warrnambool. Mum has been very blessed health-wise but age catches us all eventually and now being 6 weeks away from 92, the garden is beyond her so it is all mine to maintain. The only flowers I have now are in the wheelbarrow and they really struggle for life during the heat. All the garden gnomes need repainting but they won’t be getting done – I hate those things! They really freak me out.

If I was starting again and knew what I do now, I would have minimal, if any, gardens. Maybe a small rockery full of succulents tucked away in a corner somewhere – not geishas and morias and broms by the dozen. I have a love-hate relationship with the bromeliads. They love to scratch and cut me when I have to handle them. The gardens are a lot of work for little satisfaction especially with the intense heat and raindrops being few and far between. Water bills can become quite expensive with town water being the price it is.

I get the front gardens under control then move on to the gardens in the back yard and by the time I have finished them, the front gardens are back to square one. It’s like ironing – a thankless job.

Talking about ironing I can’t seem to get on top of that never-ending pile either – I have a chair piled high with clothing patiently waiting to be ironed, just like the constant reappearance of weeds in the garden. It doesn’t matter how much ironing I get done, it doesn’t matter how many weeds I pull out, as sure as the Pope is Catholic, within a couple of days the weeds will all be back and the ironing pile will be back to its former height!

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