Gardening in the US & UK

Gardening in the US & UK
It feels good to be let loose in my sons large gardens in the US and UK. Both are huge and both set my adrenaline pumping when I arrive. There is so much to do and so little time. But this time with four glorious months at my disposal I really enjoyed the hours I spent outside happily gardening because the sun is not as sharp and the weather so much cooler than ours in India, in both countries.

So the first thing for me is a pair of thick gloves and a pair of tough trainers and I am all set. The boys have all the tools a gardener could want and more and invariably buy a new pair of pink or yellow gloves in my size and keep them ready before I arrive. And their wives have saved my gardening trainers, in each country, carefully wrapped up in the shed.

In both the US & the UK weeding takes tons of time, but slowly we are learning to make it easier for ourselves with huge bags of mulch put down the previous year or membrane between the bushes, cutting out holes to only allow the bushes out. Then in the US huge bales of pine needle mulch is bought from Home Depot and thickly spread over the membrane to prevent any growth of weeds.

This year we got pine bark mulch at a marked down price of 2$ a bag and buying over 30 bags we covered the front of the house between the flowering bushes and the various bulbs. This is including the scented Ginger Lilly I brought from India, for the boys to remember their grandmother, whom they dearly loved. The Ginger lilly was one of her favourite flowers and they routinely had to go out and pick her a bunch, growing in the old bungalows garden, to scent up the dining room.

I spend time netting the peach trees which are now four years old and have begun to fruit well. A fine green mesh is bought online from Amazon, which arrives overnight and I spend a morning, spreading it over the two young trees and anchoring it down on the branches, to save some fruit from the birds.

One of my sons patients brings in Heirloom tomatoes as a gift in the hospital.Four different varieties and I clean up the large pots, lay a load of new compost and plant them in. Each pot has a stand on which the tomato vines will be wound. The quantity of tomatoes they get is astounding and Heirloom are an excellent variety. He had sent some pepper plants too which go down in the pots and in the fantastic Tennessee weather, almost grow before my eyes.

“ Can you put down the fig Mum that my nurse gave me and has been lying in a pot for years?” asks my son as his pager goes off and he rushes to the hospital. I dig a hole in the soft soil which has absorbed the rain, over the last two days, put in a couple of handfulls of compost and gently nudge the plant out of its pot. It comes out in a nest of roots, which makes it easy to plant.According to a Gardening site that I watch in the UK, one has to gently break the nest of roots when burying it, so new roots grow out into the soil.

The only difference between the UK and US gardens is that, in the UK I never water the garden, as it rains everyday! In the US I do, after a dry spell of two days at least. But watering is easy as my son has put down two separate coils of pipes for the front and back which makes the job really easy and fun.

I also have dug small pits in the boys gardens. That too is easy as the soil is so soft and gives easily with the shovel. I watched my Dad makes holes standing on the shovel at an angle and scooping out the mud with a flick of the wrist. For the days I am there, all the kitchen and food waste goes into the pit and I cover it with weeds and bricks to prevent any racoons or foxes digging out the stuff. By the time I leave the pit if full and I seal it with bricks and leave.

When I return after a year there is fantastic compost to spread across the garden and wake the sleeping plants. The pits also turn into earthworm farms and so both the American and British Robins and Blackbirds can have a feast. Most often I come when its nesting time and hungry babies need to be fed, so the worms come in handy. However, I just have to turn the soil over and leave and the birds pick out the wriggling worms from the soil.

The US son rakes up all his leaves and puts them through the mower and heaps them beautifully on the veggie patch. Over the winter the snow falls and then when it’s spring it melts and rots the leaves, making it perfect for my planting when I arrive. Then we go out and buy Okra and Water melon baby plants, from Home Depot and the pumpkin has sprouted from the seeds I put into the pit. The plants grow as high as our heads and the children enjoy fresh okra sauteed lightly with some salt and haldi.

In the UK the heritage Rose bush I put down three years ago is climbing in gay abandon and covered with huge fist sized buds. Soon plate sized roses appear. “How come?” asks my son and I laugh, “ I fed them the dated waste milk, yogurt and cheese over Christmas, when we were here. What do you think is under those bricks? “ I ask and he guffaws.

The Penstimons are beginning to show and the Clematis growing up his wall. I weed kneeling on a plastic weeding mat and a hand shovel. But he has bought me an easy weeding prong, which helps me finish in four days. His garden is massive and the black berries and nettles have been having a ball, over growing at the back. I use the elongated clippers and hack them back, but I make the mistake of enjoying the scent of the neighbours rose, tumbling over to our side and get stung by a nettle.

I retire to the house, take off my shoes and put some milk on the sting. I switch on the kettle and sit down to let my eyes gaze over the lovely green, expanse of garden. Sipping the hot tea I let my mind muse about the lovely legacy left by my Dad, their beloved Grandfather, who taught them to love gardening and they and I are teaching their girls to enjoy as well. A wonderful stress buster working in a garden with mother nature.And the girls are lucky to be living in homes with huge gardens to enjoy.

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