In need of TLC

I awake in the middle of the night, without reason, and gradually descend into an anxiety attack, something which happens to me much less often than it ought to. So I get up and write this.

The water spout 

A visitor to my garden, someone I know and would have thought to  – literally and figuratively – understand the bigger picture, told me during the week that my garden was in need of TLC. I looked at her blankly. “There are pots with nothing in them,” she explained. I looked her in the eye, struck her off my list, and said flatly before moving on: “What you see is what you get.”

in need of TLC

The pots do not have nothing in them. They have weeds. Which ironically makes them a lot emptier. And the dustbin lid which for eight years covered the dustbin reservoir beneath the water spout, still lingers longingly from a prime position. At the end of the festival week it is still there, although she did not mention it. What you see, lady, is what you get.

The Italian Pot and Rosemary Terrace

What I see is the opposite of her statement. When I popped home from school unexpectedly midweek I saw four people sitting on the bottom end of the big lawn, weeding out my beloved yellow gazanias from the turf. Lucas, my foreman, is a much neater person than I am, and clearly he is working towards having a perfect lawn. The fact that I would consider strimming the grass up against the wall on  the Rosemary Terrace of higher priority is not important. Truth be told, there is a whole team giving the garden TLC. And when one considers that no matter how you argue things, most of them earn a pittance and are pleased for a job, their TLC is to be very highly prized.

Breath deeply.

Ouhout forest

The Ouhout Forest is the most natural and possibly the most beautiful part of the garden. Self-sown trees and grasses, all in their natural environment. But even here a judicious pruning out (again) of dead branches and twigs will be an improvement. We will get there.

garden at Croft Cottage

During autumn Lucas planted up a corner of raw earth at the recently completed Croft Cottage. I wondered if it would survive the winter. Last week the first ever visitors were greeted by a charming display of red, blue and lilac annuals and perennials. There’s TLC for you.

First rose in New Old Rose Garden to bloom - Pink Grootendorst Rosa hugonis,- first to flower


The first roses are blooming in the New Old Rose Garden, to where my staff transplanted 125 out-of-ground roses and some 75 bagged seedlings and cuttings in late winter. There’s TLC for you. (They are, for the record and the curious, ‘Pink Grootendorst’, a rugosa as the thorny twigs show, and Rosa hugonis, always the first to bloom.)

Bench which will overlook the Mothers' Garden

Whilst we installed and fine-tuned the irrigation system, they watered all these roses daily with a hand-held hose. At least 90% will survive the move. There’s TLC for you.

Freddy's Dam

They have managed the edge of the Makou Dam – so unobtrusively that I barely notice a difference, so well that for the first time in several years I saw not one, but five Iris sibirica in bloom this spring. I thought we had lost them! There’s TLC for you…

Iris sibirica and Cyathea dregei

And so it is  to my staff  I dedicate this photo of Mateczka, my closest garden-walk companion, an unfurling tree fern, Cyathea dregei, and a Siberian Iris. And to you, lady, with all my love (take a deep breath): a basket of raspberries !


7 thoughts on “In need of TLC

  1. Eina! Rather sad, to survey your garden, with all its magic and charm. And come to rest on That Pot is EMPTY!

    Someone pointed out that the proverbial glass contains half water, half air, so is always full. Depends how you look.

  2. Good for you, Jack, for crossing her off your list! I once had a friend who, instead of noticing the wonderful rarities in bloom, stooped to pull “grass” which turned out to be some rather expensive fritillaria seedlings!! I did the same with her! I’ve also had visitors who commented something like, “Boy, you certainly have an awful lot of plants here – it’s pretty crowded.” Well, it’s SUPPOSED to be crowded, like a wild box canyon! These are the type of “gardeners” who like a plant, and a plant, and a plant, with mulch showing all around them. These folks spend MUCH more time weeding than I need to, as in MY garden, there’s little room for weeds to grow.

    But, everyone to his/her own, eh? Don’t worry about it!!


  3. Jack. TLC to:
    i. you
    ii. Lucas
    iii. Mateczka
    iv. Cyathea dregi

    As for the “friend,” you should have plucked a weed from erstwhile pot and said, “For you.”


  4. Jack, I guess the anxiety attack goes with all the changes in your life. Ignorant remarks are best ignored, but I know how hard they can be to get out of your mind. I think it’s beautiful, and I wish I could have been there. -Jean

  5. Pingback: EARLY SPRING, VISITORS « Sequoia Gardens Blog

  6. thank you for yet another walk through the garden, Jack, and sharing the progress.
    TLC is a subjective thing, so she is entitled to her own definition, and you are not entitled to get upset by her definition.
    please don’t send her nettles, and keep her on your list: it will make her a better person.

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