Landscaping the garden, Surrey, UK

Landscaping the garden, Surrey, UK
When the boys grew and had their own gardens, in their various homelands,as a mother I could see how much influence my Dad and I had on their joy of gardening. One boy lives and breathes his garden, while the other enjoys it if I am around, maybe to indulge me, but is not that enamoured.

Every time I went to the UK home, that son spent hours working with me in the garden. Infact he would get down on his knees and work with his bare hands, saying I need to feel the soil between my fingers! No way I have ever done that, I will work with tough gloves, as I like my fingers looking nice,like my Mums, having been a pianist.

We were planting marigolds under his crab apple tree and there he was digging away removing the weeds and making the bed ready for planting, adding compost to it.He loves marigolds and cannas, as they remind him of India.

“Why don’t you use gloves I said, digging away companionably with him. Some insect could sting you in the soil,” I said.

“ Nah!” He said turning the beautiful black soil in his garden, “ the soil here is like compost Mum, look.” But that still did not make it ok for me.

Every year I go once, maybe twice, and we work and enjoy his garden together as its huge and needs a ton of work.I realise he needs someone to work with him to enjoy it, so when my husband and other son go, he works the heavier jobs with them. It’s become a family project!

Hanging baskets, strawberries, peppers, once we even grew a bed of potatoes and tomatoes and the mint turned into a rash and we were told, take care, in the UK, mint is a weed.

Then this year he said,” I am getting a landscaper.So glad you will be here to see what she brings and give her your opinion too.”I was floored,landscaping that huge garden, only the back and not the front was a ton of work and I wondered in my typical Indian fashion what it would cost.

I always knew he bought the house for the garden.The house was secondary!

The landscaper arrived one evening when the garden was bathed in the evening sun.She looked the typical mad gardener, in her knee high boots, hair all askew and her hands flying around as she explained her drawing, in her clipped Brit accent. Both my son and I and his wife,immediately fell in love with her drawing, as she spread it out on the table on the back patio.

Undulating beds curving in and out of the lawn, which would be filled to bursting with shrubs and flowers and would become a little paradise. The kiddy area with its swings, slides and trampoline, had lovely rubber topping which once the kids grew could be removed.

“ You can have your water body there later, once the kids grow, with a solar fountain,” she said fingers flying encircling the area and we looked at one another and smiled.

“ You are going to remove the pear tree?” I asked which I had festooned with hanging baskets.

“ Yes,” she said avoiding my eyes and looking pleadingly at my son, yes we must, to give the front a larger open look and have a huge sweeping bed there.”

“ Not the Crab apple too?” I asked immediately and she said “ No!” thankfully.

“ No not my crab apple ever,” said my son, who is very proud of this beautifully and naturally shaped apple tree, loaded with apples.

“ Could he have some more fruit trees in for the kids,” I ask as we grew up eating fruit from our own gardens in India, which were organic and not dunked in whatever they are dunked in, to make them look fancifully perfect.

“ Oh yes, we can have three. I have left space here for one and there for another and a third should you want one more,” she said while I mentally thought of the peach, cherry and plum grafts I had seen in the Elm nursery down the road.

I am pleasantly surprised to see the beds have already been marked and I am gone just a month. The pear tree was gently taken away when the little ones were not there to see and get distressed. The wide sweeping arcs of the beds can be seen so beautifully laid out already and my boy worked along with the gardeners, whom he had to call in. Old paths removed, bamboo from the neighbour dug out and contained with stone retainers, the pergola is next on the list and his compost pit out the back behind the cabin.

Then the garden will rest till he returns in August to plant all the new shrubs and bulbs. My other sons have promised to be there and help him put them all down with the landscaper. So wonderful to see the three boys so close and loving and not in the least jealous of the other’s success. So important not to play favourites among kids in a family..

What I feel terrible about is my Dad who was the one who inspired my son, is not there. My Mum too who encouraged him, is too ill to even be aware of what’s going around her. It is so strange for me a mother who just took it as normal working in the garden with my Dad, to see the joy of nature being replicated so far away.

As the garden takes shape the orchids in the house bloom and grow and his little curry patta grows stronger with it’s liquid feed. It’s the circle of life. My parents and I and his kids and so on. My boys got the best years of my parents, as they were young grandparents then.

Makes me get up every morning being grateful for that and for the joy they left in us, to treasure and nurture nature, so she gives back to us a hundred fold.

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