Things I like:
- I love sowing seeds, preferably in the greenhouse in spring when it is cold outside but warm enough to take my jacket off inside out of the wind . My resolution this year is to label everything, not just the first few trays I sow, but everything, all the time. Chances of success? Low.
- I like cutting things back, not the large scale pruning which needs pruning saws and loppers, but the tidying up sort of cutting back. I particularly like cutting back perennial geraniums when they have flowered and seeing the resulting crewcut grow back into a neat, bushy plant which flowers all over again. I like deadheading too.
- Astonishingly, I quite like weeding. I kneel on an old foam pad and weed with my handfork. At some point I always take off my gardening gloves, dooming myself for yet another summer to broken nails and gardeners' hands. I like getting up close with the garden, seeing what has self sown. I like self sowers: alchemilla mollis, papaver somniferum, honesty, calendula, forget me not. Self sown plants often choose better places than I would and I like to see where they are and sometimes I move them about while I am digging up the creeping buttercup and the chickweed.
Things I don't like:
- I love compost but I hate turning the compost heap and I am not too fond of wheeling barrows full of the stuff about. It's heavy. I drop it everywhere and make a mess. The inevitable eggshells which haven't broken down roll out onto my feet and I fail to decide what to do with them. Mulching by magic would be the ideal solution.
- I hate bindweed, with a passion. Every year I dig it up and chase the roots through the soil and begin to think I might be winning. Every year I turn my back for a few minutes in May and there it is, growing up through my paeonies and strangling the strawberries.
- I don't mind weeding beds but I hate weeding paths and terraces. There is none of the interest of seeing what is coming up of its own accord and none of the satisfaction of weeding an onion bed and giving the onions room to breathe. It is just outside housekeeping and it bores me rigid.
- I don't like staking things. I know this is stupid because year after year I don't do it or leave it too late and the wind comes whistling along the side of the house and all my foxgloves are left leaning at a crazy angle like the trees on the top of the ridge. Maybe I would like it better if I stopped failing to use metal rings and had a go with birch twigs and hazel instead.