Our garden was a delight, I realise in retrospect and the fact that I took this photograph must have meant that I thought it was quite special at the time as well. Not only is a riot of colour with red and yellow polyanthus, daffodils (past their best), tulips, grape hyacinths and a yellow flowering forsythia shrub in the left hand corner, there appear to be no weeds. (!) This sort of thing doesn’t happen by accident of course. Even the grass seems beautifully green and to be have been recently cut. The garden was on the corner of Caistor Lane and Norwich Road in Poringland and this first picture is of a part of the garden facing Caistor Lane; being on a corner plot the front garden was much bigger than the back. The picture was taken about 1972 while I was in my early 20s and still living at home with my parents. Although much of the donkey work on the garden was mine, I must admit that the choice of plants and indeed the purchase of them were my father’s concern.
Here is another photograph of part of the garden that fronts the main road. In the foreground is the trunk of one of our birch trees. There is no doubt that spring was a special time in our garden, and the ensuing seasons were not always so colourful. Here we have a display of white, yellow and purple crocuses and chianodoxas (those starlike flowers with a white centre, surrounded by blue petals). They come from the eastern Mediterranean, the Greek Islands and Turkey. Not much would grow here later in the year as the trees shaded the border once the leaves appeared.
If you allowed your eye to be drawn to other areas of the garden there was an impressive display of irises in early summer. These were followed by roses all around the boundary during high summer. The pond normally had one or two goldfish and a couple of water lilies. A heather garden round in the centre of the garden came to the fore in September. As well as the birch trees there were flowering trees of pink hawthorn in May followed by golden laburnum. These transferred the passer-by’s attention away from any seasonally dull borders. The most intractable problem concerned the lawn, which would turn sear and yellow during any prolonged drought; the soil was sandy with very little humus or loam to hold the moisture. Short of getting the hose-pipe out there was nothing to be done, and at the first sign of drought of course there was a hose-pipe ban.
Gardens are a delight, but the degree of pleasure they provide is in direct proportion to the amount of work put into them. Nowadays there are a lot of labour-saving devices, like shingle or tiles instead of lawns, and tubs instead of flower beds, but although these can provide a immediate effect, on a closer inspection they can be rather barren.
I found that the best way to keep the garden looking good was to maintain regular action with the hoe. In this way it did not require a lot of work so long as no part was left too long, to get out of hand. In this I was rather better than my father, who would leave the garden for long periods, and then embark on a major onslaught on the resulting weeds. Although my home for the last 24 years has a much smaller and more manageable garden, it has never been so colourful as the one at Poringland.
Those people who do not enjoy gardening should live in flats; I have always enjoyed the quiet and peaceful labour that gardening entails, and even with a modest plot there is virtually no end to the amount of work you can find to do.