Plants on Castors

I was looking at the tags in the side bar of my blog the other day and I realized how tiny the lettering of the word ‘gardening’ had become.

Those WordPress people are clever – the way they make the tags take on a font size related to how often they have been used – and although I never intended to write a gardening-focussed blog I am surprised at how small I have allowed ‘gardening’ to become in my blog-universe.

I love gardening. I love plants, and pruning, and getting my hands dirty digging in the earth. I love the changes you witness throughout the year. The new shoots emerging as bulbs push through when winter moves to spring; the fragile unfurling of leaf buds; the way fruits swell and colour in the autumn; the beauty and fragile geometry of seed heads.

I also love designing and working on the layout of my gardens. Whenever I move house I spend many happy months with graph paper and pencil working out what I can use and what I can change in the garden framework. This is followed by a period of heavy labour – often involving the digging up and reshaping of lawns, laying paving, and even wall and step building.

I am a self-taught landscaper. I have some wonderful books to delve into for ideas and to teach me the techniques that I need. There is something immensely satisfying about actually buying and mixing the sand and cement to make mortar to bed in the bricks when creating a path or a raised bed.

There is also great joy in sourcing the necessary materials. I am a great scavenger and recycler. In my current garden I prised up paving from the back garden to relay to the front, and the lawn that I have taken up at the front was rotted down and the earth used to fill the new beds in the back. My wobbly wheelbarrow handle didn’t survive! I sourced bricks to make a wall through a local Freecycle Facebook page, and enjoyed the brief connections with new people that accompany these transactions. This week, a burst of energy led me to pick the brains of the helpful man at the trade counter of a local timber merchant. The sleepers, posts and special screws needed to make the edging to raise the height of a flowerbed will be delivered soon.

The problem with all this activity is my usual requirement for ‘plants on castors’ – a phrase that I believe was coined by my ex-husband because I move my plants around so often (see my previous blog post here). It is not for want of planning, though. I have often sat down and made detailed planting plans, catering for interest across different seasons and my reluctance to leave a single inch of soil unused. The difficulty is all those new ideas that crowd my head and demand to be listened to. In this case the strong sense that if I raised the bed in the middle of my back garden it would help to break up the entirely flat space and ‘lift’ the dynamic a little – literally. Of course this also means ‘lifting’ all the plants that are already established there, too…

I blame Monty Don. His new gardening series ‘Big Dreams Small Spaces’ is inspiring, especially to those of us who have downsized our gardens but still want a place that overflows with greenery. It was watching a recent episode that impelled me to go ahead with the bed-raising.

Maybe I need ‘walls on castors’ too. image: Flower bed in back garden

To raise or not to raise?!


Trying to attach the heavy hooks for a wrought iron gate to a fencepost without the aid of a drill. The screws would simply not screw! My drill’s motor died last year, and I have been borrowing a drill from friends when I need one, but maybe the time has come for a visit to the DIY shop.


Going to the Easter Day service at my parish church. As you are probably aware I am a Quaker, but in the long-distant past my leanings were Church of England and Baptist. Part of me misses the rituals of a church service and the deep spirituality that can be found there, so I dip back in sometimes. The Easter Day service is always a joyful occasion, but this one was deeply moving too. The church has a wonderful choir who add colour and descant to the rich music, and taking communion still has a special meaning for me. So glad I went!

© Anne de Gruchy

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