The left hand side of the garden, complete with empty birdfeeder

The garden and I have become strangers this year. It wasn’t supposed to play out like this. In the original plan, I was going to work hard during the spring and have the summer to play in the garden. But feast or famine is the freelancer’s curse, and I found myself constantly in demand.

It sounds great, in theory, and I in many ways I am grateful. But it has brought its own problems. I have been sitting indoors far more than is healthy. Creativity has left the kitchen as we struggle to find quick dinners that can be made with fading energy, or cook ahead meals that will survive a few days in the fridge and still entice. There have been too many takeaways, and far too many days when the only things that would revive my spirits were packets of crisps and cupcakes.


Right hand side of garden, with cat-proof bed covers and wildlife camera

The garden, of course, is less affected by this estrangement than I am. It was designed with times like this in mind. Weeds and watering have been kept to a minimum, and a lot of the plants can look after themselves. It goes on without me, and just starts looking a little unkempt.

Even so, we have eaten far more out of the garden this year than I have ever done in all my years of gardening. We’ve had oodles of purple sprouting broccoli, potatoes, leeks and onions. We’ve enjoyed the rainbow sweetcorn and the summer squashes. The shark’s fin melons tried to come in and join us in the house. We haven’t eaten them yet…. There’s been salad and soft fruit, and (surprisingly) the occasional sweet pepper. We’ve got a lot better at eating things when they’re ready, or processing them to eat later. There has been very little waste.

The garden design and the garden plan have done their job, and produced a successful garden this year despite the gardener’s distraction. But it’s clear that the gardener needs to do a little more pruning and planning in the work area of her life, so that she can benefit from spending more time in the garden next year.


The DeliDahlias are still flowering....

One of the things we have done this year is fill most of the birdfeeders with just sunflower hearts, which makes the tits happy and attracts every finch within flying distance. They can get through two feeders in a day, although they do get a bit of help from the squirrel. His acrobatic antics amuse me, so I have no plans to fit a squirrel baffle. Ryan has set up the wildlife camera to view the birdfeeder. This is one of the outtakes! Watch the little fella on the waterbutt….






This blog post was written by Emma Cooper and was published on The Unconventional Gardener website. If you're reading it elsewhere you may want to navigate away from plagiarised content.

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