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in The potting shed
I'm female. I'm sixty. My days of working in the garden from 9 in the morning to six at night, then going in and making my tea, are over. I do a few hours every day and that is enough. My years of experience count for nothing when sheer brute muscle is needed to humph bags of compost or chipped bark around. I wish I was more like the TV gardeners - whose watering cans are always full and at hand, whose watering hose is always the right length and never twisted or caught in plants and never tripped over, who always have the right tool for the job and never try to dig a biggish hole with a trowel because getting the spade out of the garage is just too much like hard work!
I love my garden but each year the jobs just seem to get harder and longer to do and each year I feel as though I could have done better. I have given up cutting my hedges and get someone in to do them now. But the rest of the work is up to me. This year I am making a concentrated effort to get more late flowering summer perennials planted to take my garden screaming and kicking into autumn.
Has anyone got any words of wisdom to make my gardening life easier? I have a cottage style garden with lawn so lots of cutting back and clearing up required.
Use wheels as much as possible - as in wheelbarrow or sack truck for moving bags of compost. A light weight electric mower. A small shed in the garden to keep the most used tools. Curly wirly hosepipe for watering instead of carrying watering cans. Seats placed strategically for a rest now and again and to admire your hard work.
get some of the garden covered with some large shrubs that need little attention and you can concentrate on the rest.
Hogweed, I could have written that! I have a garden on a slope, divided by what could be called a parterre if it wasn't so weedy. The top half of the garden, which is flatter, I keep mown and weeded. The lower half I have dubbed the wildlife garden. The grass gets cut in late summer and the old flower beds have a lot of large shrubs under which only the toughest old bluebells grow. This has gone from being a green desert (mown lawn) to a wildflower meadow (I don't care which - yarrow and dandelions are fine by me) but I have also discovered wild orchids have appeared too.
The number of insects in the garden has increased massively in the five years that I have been doing this. As long as I keep the boundary weeded for the benefit of m neighbours and deadhead the dandelions before they seed, it all seems to be perfectly well accepted.
Hogweed, you sound very nice. A little blip though of low thinking but that will lift and I hope so.
Lets start with those late summer perennials. Heleniums, asters,chrysanthemums,,rudbekias, dahlias, sedums, cannas, etc will all provide autumn colour.
Growing perennials and less annuals make life easier I think. Hardy geraniums will cut down on the weeding and cover, floriferously, a large area.
I guess gardening can be energy sapping so maybe just pacing yourself and not worry too fastidiously about it can make it easier.
Just enjoy your garden.
Don't believe everything always goes perfectly for the professionals. I wonder just how many times the editor has to say cut or another chocolate biscuit is nibbled whilst the hose pipe is de-knotted. One of my favourite moments in Gardener's World was when Monty Don fell in the pond and if I remember correctly Joe Swift nearly wet himself laughing.
As far as reducing the workload in the garden, I watched Alan Titchmarsh's 'How to be a Gardener' programme on u-tube where he created a low maintenance garden using conifers. I thought it might look like a cemetery at the beginning but because he include some shrubs and perennials, rather than heathers which are often planted alongside conifers, it looked impressive.
I agree with Verdun that Hardy Geraniums can cover a lot of ground, reduce on the amount of weeding you need to do and not require too much work during the season.
Because I have a busy job as a vicar working evenings as well as during the day, I have used a lot of grasses with late flower perennials in my largest border to reduce the workload.
Finally, if you are able to do so get a gardener in to do some of the heavier work such as cutting the hedges and the grass and spend those precious few hours you can doing the things you enjoy. And maybe, having a little less energy may mean you can now do what most of us gardeners struggle to do, which is sit back and enjoy your garden. The idea of having a few more seats dotted about the garden sounds good to me.
bless you, i' a few years behind you but extreme sleep deprivation and post natal arthritis make me feel very much for you, little and often, and i highly recommend a bit of yoga for strength ad flexibility
or get in touch with a local horticultural college see if they want to use your garden for educational purposes
I'm a girl a couple of years ahead of you, and while I used to be as strong as an ox and could pitch a bale and wrangle a ram, something seems to have happened over the past few years
I had such plans for the garden when I moved here and retired ............. then a series of injuries (back and knee) got in the way
However, I am learning not to charge at things like a bull in a china shop - I am doing what I used to have to do at work, and prioritise - I plan my campaign and work out what must be done now and what can wait - and I sit on the garden benches a lot and look at it all and enjoy it
I agree with Rosemummy regarding the yoga. If you can get to a class near you, you will benefit greatly, as it keeps you supple as gardening requires bending down a lot.
Hogweed, you sound like me too. I'm 62 and have about an acre. But I do have an OH who cuts the grass. I saw your post last night before there was an answer, but I was just too tired and went to bed!
I've started using permeable weed suppressant fabric covered with bark chippings, which has cut down the weeding in 2 beds, one of which is just shrubs and lavender. Don't say anything, Verdun, I know you hate it! I use a different sort of fabric in the veggie garden, pinned down with big staple things for plants like tomatoes and courgettes, even onion sets (I cut holes in it). But I have a lot of flower borders with mostly perennials, which I never quite keep on top of with the weeding. I weed kneeling on a mat and knees are getting stiff!
A lot of us have reached that time when it all gets a bit too much. (69 this year).
OH says we just have to accept the changes to the garden and let some get overgrown, but I'm not ready yet.
I had the idea of getting ground covering evergreens on all the slopes, I've always found slopes hard on the back and hips. In some places this has worked but others not yet.
I was a full time carer for 3 years with increasing duties towards the end. During that time a garden fit to open for the ngs turned into a jungle of weeds. It's my ambition to get back on top within the next couple of years.
I'm not ready to give up whatever the joints are saying. I may even grow more trees from seed.
If you can afford it hogweed it might be worth having hard stuff instead of grass. Grass takes a lot of effort even if you're not obsessive about it and all those clippings need to go somewhere.
Ignore what the TV gardeners do. As someone else said, it's not real. It's like taking photos of the garden. You get a stunning pic of a small part and only you know what's behind the lens
Don't despair, grow easy, low maintenance plants and enjoy it
Rio Knight wrote (see)
One of the advantages of the current job crisis is that you can get a couple of hours labour for next to nothing. Maybe having some young man lugging stuff about and weeding boarders with his top off could be of use to you now and again.
...the mere thought is quite rejuvenating...lol...
...perhaps downsizing might have to be considered at some point... this is no consolation but I'm envious of anyone who has the time to spend more than an hour a day in their garden.... 9-6 would be unimaginable,...or even a few hours a rarity... I still work and do the lot myself... not easy to find the time...and I'm older than you...but I do have a husband to do some heavy work... just dug out a shrub that had been rooted in for years...no way I could have done that on my own....
...I would be in favour of taking the more shrubs and conifers line...I always think things like roses and perennials - cottage gardening - take up a lot of work...I've had to cut down on those quite a bit...
My last reply disappeared into the ether, so if it reappears, sorry for the repeat!
Thank you all for your kind words of wisdom and support. Up until now I very rarely sat down in my garden - I was always up and doing things - I can see now that sitting down will become more frequent. I was feeling a bit despondent last night having spent a couple of hours in the afternoon trying to separate couch grass from a big clump of persicaria. In the end I threw most of the persicaria out!
Rio's suggestion amused me - it would certainly brighten my day!
Off to the garden centre now for heleniums and a trillium if I can afford it!
Thank you all again!
scott just read your post, can't believe monty fell in pond, i love him so much, i would love to see that, and rio, yes, it's often good t see a top off but only if what's under it worth seeing!!! hogweed, maybe rather than a pro gardener you could try a local 'handyman'? we had a helpful chap last year when we needed most of front digging up to replace lead pipes. must reiterate how fab yoga is, even just learn a couple of postures, for instance a sun salutation, it will honestly help, my favourite thing is doing it - well, was when i had time and hope to do so this summer....-do your yoga in the garden really early in the morning, blissfully quiet, just birds singing, good for mind body and soul