As I write literally hundreds of men and women are dismantling the 100th Chelsea Flower Show. Plants and hard landscaping materials are being loaded onto trucks to be taken away and resold or, in the case of a lucky few, reassembled permanently elsewhere. This year we have seen a fascinating range of gardens from the great and the good of garden design, but here, in a quiet corner of Cornwall, a crime has been committed.
Let me fill you in a bit; my house shares a common lawn with my neighbours. There's a wooden fence that separates the lawn from a short drop to our parking spaces. Both houses have their own gate, but there is no division at the front of the two houses.
My neighbours decided that they wanted to grow runner beans and a few herbs along the fence line in front of their house, which is fair enough. Unfortunately this left a messy strip in front of mine, too tricky to mow between the fence posts. Today I got sick of this and decided to sort it out, so I dug over the area and planted a few things. No problem?
In order to match in with the 'border' next door I kept the front of the border in line with the front of theirs. The only problem is that their border is barely a foot (30cm) deep!
|Urgh, look how thin this is...|
Why, you may ask, don't I make my planting area bigger? This is where the challenges of gardening in rented accommodation come in. Firstly my neighbours like the grass so their grand children can run around in safety when they visit, which I can entirely sympathise with. Secondly, living in rented accommodation there is a fairly good chance that at some point I will leave and have to set things right, and the more I do to the space, the more time and money I will have to spend making sure that everything is set right when I leave. The incentive to indulge in serious gardening isn't really there.
I see this time and time again on the nursery; customers (usually young couples) come in looking for a fast-growing shrub to screen something or make some impact and as cheap as possible because they live in rented accommodation and don't want to spend a fortune. I grow nearly all of my plants in containers (except the few things that have gone into my 'criminal border') so I can at least indulge my love of plants at home. This means a lot to me because living alone I have to watch every penny for rent and council tax etc., so tinkering around and watering my plants is one of my few easily affordable pleasures.
On the parking bay side of the fence things fare a little better; using deep window boxes bought from my local garden centre I have made a 'border' behind where I park my van. I dabbled with 'flowers' (bedding) mainly to keep criticism about my "boring plants" down, but now I've settled on a mix of hardy herbaceous plants. Best of all with each section being different I can swap them around and, within reason, make a new border!
|The little green tufts are white trailing Lobelia for later in the summer|