Last month, May, was the sunniest, warmest and driest on record, since records began (again). I think I deserve it really after lockdown and putting up with another winter. I want to tell you about my garden.
I’ve always loved roses which is a good thing because the soil in my garden is heavy, it’s clay and roses like that. When we moved here 25 years ago we had the garden landscaped and there is not much plant-wise that still remains from those days. The patio and the pergola is still standing after new supports and nearly all stanchions. A lot of the posts are supported with concrete buttresses but some of it is 25 years old, it supports a wisteria and a honeysuckle, however I decided that the landscaping was a bit boring. So, over the years I’ve changed things a bit. I have planted many roses mostly from bare root and although they’ve taken a while to mature they look delightful this time of year, June is a good month for roses. Yesterday, I deadheaded, well, when I say ‘I’ we all know that I don’t mean ‘I’ did it. I asked one of my PA’s to deadhead my roses and I gave her a tutorial on the correct way to deadhead. I have years of experience from generations of gardeners in my family. I could have been Monty Don or Monty Don with a wheelchair. I think my PA may have felt a little claustrophobic at me looking over her shoulder but, I wasn’t checking up on her, honestly.
I always want to be that woman of a certain age who gets out in the garden with secateurs, sunhat of course, a flowery one, wide-brimmed, taking cuttings and picking off the black fly whilst sipping iced tea, non alcoholic of course. My problem is that I forget the wheelchair. In my dreams I don’t have MS. I’m quite able to be the person that I should have been, in my dreams. I kneel down to take out the old weeds, collecting cut flowers in my Sussex trugg and, because I kept myself fit in that dream I can raise myself from my knees without creaking.
This has always been an issue for me. I had a telephone conversation with my Mum yesterday afternoon and I was explaining to her this woman I would like to be, using my gardening knowledge and enjoying my golden years pottering. She suggested that I wanted to be Mary Berry! I think I can make a Victoria sandwich with homemade jam dusted with icing sugar, but the idea of it is not my reality anymore. Handling hot things and sharp things, let alone reaching for the flour is just not possible. I imagine going for a stroll, just me and my thoughts down a leafy lane, but although I have a wheelchair which moves, my Handlers won’t let me go out on my own presumably because I might have to cross a road or come up against a pothole that I can’t manoeuvre ’round.
Perhaps I’m safer in the garden. I love the colours and I know the names of almost all of my roses, I feel like they are my children. I’ve become that person who will comment on the lack of bees in the garden this year or the acidity of the soil, or the effect of the sun and how it dries the grass. I know the right time of the day to water the garden and believe me these aren’t things I’m old enough to know, or so I thought.
MS has given me a lot of negatives, that’s for sure, but if I hadn’t been disabled I’d be working. The pressures would be on for me to achieve so many things that it is accepted I cannot do. So, I have time to smell the roses.