Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Erica Munro: Reality is rudely coming between me and my gorgeous garden vision

You need a lot of knowledge to grow your dream garden (Photo: Neirfy/Shutterstock)
You need a lot of knowledge to grow your dream garden (Photo: Neirfy/Shutterstock)

To honour the start of spring, on paper at least, here’s a snippet from Daffodowndilly by AA Milne.

It’s a poem that not only reminds us of the beautiful constancy of nature, but also shows that the author didn’t give all the best lines to Winnie the Pooh.

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
‘Winter is dead.'”

The tiny snowdrops in my garden defied Storms Corrie, Dudley, Eunice and Franklin, but the huge holly tree sheltering the log pile did not. Looking out the kitchen window after the first storm, we initially thought that the damage was just a few fallen branches, but on closer inspection we found that our massive, tangled old holly had cleaved at the roots and taken out a drystone wall and three log piles in its clattering death throes.

Should we weep or cheer? Three smashed log piles and a ruined wall isn’t great but, once cut up, we’ll have tons of extra firewood for months.

A rallying call was made to the Chainsaw Masochists, my husband’s somewhat niche WhatsApp group who occasionally give up their weekends in service of their friends for a chainsawy, garden-blitzing bonanza, featuring hard hats, bacon rolls and top banter, as the young folks say. Come Sunday, a cheery gathering of dads had assembled and a noisy morning commenced.

Lots of trees fell across the north and north-east during recent storms (Photo: Wullie Marr/DCT Media)

I’d made a rhubarb and custard traybake from a recipe I found on the internet because I wanted everyone to have something lovely to eat during their tea break. I didn’t want to feel guilty letting them get on with the hard work while I stayed cosy indoors.

I’m as capable as the next person of dragging a twiggy branch towards a chipper, barrowing logs, or bumping a bough along a sawhorse, but I was fairly sure they would have far more fun without me. The kittens, watching from afar, found it all very odd.

First settle on your vision

Anyway, as my trashed garden reels from the storms, I’ve begun thinking about what direction to take it in this year, now that the sowing season is within reach. What is our vision? Our ethos? Our concept?

It’d be nice to think that, this year, we can go one step further than keeping on top of the weeds, hacking back branches, wondering who on earth planted that clump of alarming, knicker-pink hyacinths, and actually do something different and beautiful.

So, we’re going to grow more flowers. We’re good at fruit and veg, but the colour in our garden disappears when the rhododendrons die back in May.

Growing vegetables and growing flowers are very different art forms (Photo: Fotokostic/Shutterstock)

A friend of mine has taken courses in flower farming and sells her gorgeous blooms locally; you have to move fast to snap them up. Her inspirational arrangements are the sort of bouquets you dream about but never see: fragrant, fresh and gloriously homegrown.

We went to the garden centre – excited that, this year, our flower-filled home will reduce Elton John to tears, should he ever pop in

This summer, I hope to waft out into my garden, wearing a huge hat and carrying a wicker trug, as chirping birds dance around my shoulders and fat bumblebees look up gratefully from their lunch as I cut armfuls of blooms “for the house”.

I wanted a vision? There it is.

So, we went to the garden centre, did exhaustive, back-of-the-seed-packet research and came home laden – excited that, this year, our flower-filled home will reduce Elton John to tears, should he ever pop in.

Now there’s just the small issue of getting them to grow. Winnie the Pooh, usually so wise, said: “Doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” But, in terms of getting flowers to flower, he dropped the ball.

Baby steps towards a dream garden

I admire those passionate, celebrity gardeners, but they do seem to communicate in code. They’re all about rooting powder, sharp sand, leaf nodules – say what now?

Then they’re pricking out, potting on, hardening off, grafting, splicing… Watching them is like watching a brain surgeon at work and deciding: “Yeah, sure, I’ll give that a go.”

I grumble that you need a PhD in horticulture if you’re going to have any success at all, and this notion makes me unwilling even to make a start.

I’m easily discouraged by small setbacks and dislike not knowing what I’m doing. Others must feel the same way about trying cooking, music or art; that they’re for different, cleverer people who’ve put the work in.

Enough gurning. I’ll sow the seeds, try not to weed out too many by mistake in a few months’ time, and even if this summer only yields a marigold or two, at least I’ll have a bunch of knowledge for next year.

Erica Munro is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and freelance editor

Already a subscriber? Sign in