Don't worry...I am not going to go all philosophical on you with some insightful snippets into living a purposeful life or how to be brave in the face of adversity. Oh no - this 'Window on the World' is more about something I heard on the radio yesterday afternoon when I was having a small moment of solitude between getting home from work (very busy at the moment - loads of children - Lord knows where they come from but they keep on a-coming) and picking up Kayleigh for a visit involving being a princess, walking two imaginary dogs and making toad in the hole for Grandpa's dinner because he has had a stressful week and toad in the hole was called for. And icecream.)
'Gardener's Question Time' was the programme in...er, well...question. I like this programme. The audience always entertains me. They are a grand bunch, gardening types. Anyway, one of the features focused on how people use their front gardens, if they are lucky enough to have front gardens these days because looking at the state of all these new housing estates that are springing up in Kent you are lucky if you get enough space to stand a single pot of lavender, let alone have the luxury of wielding a strimmer.
Anyway, one street somewhere (location unknown or maybe I missed it because next door was having a slanging match) had decided to see what they could do with their front gardens and had come up with a variety of designs and approaches to show passers-by exactly what they could do with their front gardens if they felt so inclined. And one of them said that what he found most surprising was that if you used your front garden it became a more private space. Pedestrians were less likely to stare into your front garden or at the front of your house or into your front window if you used your front garden as a living space.
Well, this is interesting, I thought. I have often thought we ought to do more with our front garden. We have a fairly good space because we are on a corner plot which is triangular in shape, so the front space is as big as the back space, with the house plopped in the middle. And occasionally I think, perhaps we could put a little table and chairs out the front and sit out in the evenings (because that is where the sun ends up at the end of the day) and watch the world go by. And this thought has been more in the front of my mind in the last year since the noisy tenants moved in next door and sit in their back garden chain smoking, swilling beer and being totally ineffectual in the control of their small screaming child.
We have done a bit with the front garden over the years. The lawn has been reseeded because it was very patchy when we first arrived. We have installed a magnolia tree and a nut tree, and loads of lavender, thyme and oregano in the borders. There are assorted pots with assorted plants therein lining the front wall of the house. Bluebells come up in the early Spring. There is space to park 2 cars comfortably and I do my best to keep that space weed-free so it looks a bit tidy.
In fact, the only thing that really wants sorting out is the border that runs along the inside of the front wall which is home to three ancient rose bushes that refuse to be dug up and a variety of other non-descript shrubs which I keep in very tight order with whatever sharp chopping instrument I have to hand at the time.
Sometimes we will stand and look at this border, and 'umm' and 'aah' over its fate. Should we build the wall up higher? Add some trellis on the top? Plant a hedge in the border because we both like hedges? Replace the rose trees? Install some crazy garden art? We never quite make a decision so it continues to look lacking in purpose.
I have also been eyeing up the shrub under which Tybalt's sister, Lily, is buried, because this year it has been looking decidely ropey and is, I suspect, now beyond its best. My vague plan for this space is to take up the shrub, put in a willow obelisk made from some of the masses of willow we harvested this year and grow sweet peas up it. (Note to self: dust out the root trainers and sow sweet pea seeds this weekend.)
So now I am thinking, with the back garden pretty much complete (a recent visitor said, 'Oooh, it looks like a proper country cottage garden' which rather chuffed me!) my attention is turned to the front. Maybe we should get a little bench to sit on and use it more as a living space. Maybe the chap was right, that the space will become more private and people will not stare at us sitting there having afternoon tea and reading a jolly good novel. And then maybe, if they do stare, and we become known as 'that weird couple on the corner', we won't care anyway, because what we do in our garden(front or back) is our business and no-one else's.
And now we have to do a run out to the countryside, to our favourite pet supplies place because the cats are almost out of cat litter, the hens are almost out of layers' pellets and straw and, most importantly, also sunflower seeds. And Kayleigh is worried that if I start feeding Primrose and Daisy 'human' sunflower seeds as she calls them because they are kept in a nice glass kilner jar in the kitchen and not in the hens' plastic pot in the conservatory (and thereby lies the difference between 'chicken' seeds and 'human' seeds) the hens will turn into humans and that will be the end of eggs. And egg collecting. Which still makes us both squeal with excitement, even after all these years.