Two Weeks Without a Garden

The family has just spent two weeks at the cottage in the Isle of Wight. We rent it out to other people most of the year and our two week sojourn in the summer is looked forward to. The weeks ’til we go are counted down with bated breath or perhaps to be more accurate we are gagging for it!

It has lovely views and we fling the windows open at night knowing that the silence except for the gentle murmur of the sea will be a welcome change from the traffic that means we only open our windows in London on the very rarest stifling night when we can bear it no longer.

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View from the bedroom window

We love the cottage for its peace and quiet, it’s proximity to the sea, the views, the total change from London. The thing that I find hard though is that it has virtually no garden. A couple of small borders and some planters. This was part of its appeal when we bought it. Knowing we were going to rent it out it needed to be low maintenance and I am sure that for a few weeks a year when we are there I can hear you say ‘well do without’.

There are gardens to visit, Mottistone Manor is lovely with it’s double herbaceous borders, tropical beds and woodland walk. It never fails to capture the imagination. Osborne House has lovely gardens and just down the road from the cottage is the Ventnor Botanic Garden with a wonderful selection of plants that thrive in the micro-climate of the south of the Island. The public planting on the Island is imaginative too. Sandown has wildlife friendly wild flower borders along the front which thrive in the sea air. Roundabouts are planted thoughtfully with grasses – such an improvement on annuals.

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Mottistone Manor hot bed
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Sandown seafront

The trouble is I love gardening. Having an allotment and urban garden in London means I do a lot of it. Having my hands in the soil. Watching plants grow. Cropping fruit and vegetables gives me great joy so even two weeks not doing it and I start to feel a bit twitchy. When at the cottage I visit nurseries and garden centres planning in my head what I could buy and where they could go.

Finally this holiday I snapped. That conifer in the rockery border by the entrance to the driveway that is dying? It’s coming out. I’ve never liked it to be honest but hate to destroy a living plant if it is healthy but I looked at it with fresh eyes and it really was on it’s last legs.

I set to and in a morning, having been to the local hardware store, Hurst, to get the requisite tools, I had got it out. The soil was impoverished so needed replenishing with lots of organic matter and I bought some Agapanthus ‘Ventnor Variety’ to go in its place from the aforementioned Botanic Gardens. Three lovely established plants that should get their roots down this autumn and be beautiful next summer.

I felt much better. You can take the garden away from the gardener but you can’t stop her gardening – or something like that.

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