The Pleasures of Gardening

To call it, as some do, a nature patch, is an abuse of the English language. It has nothing to do with nature. It is an invention whose sole purpose is to kill off what few small pleasures a man may enjoy in what little time is left for leisure. I speak, of course, of the greatest affliction ever planted upon the already over-burdened suburban man - the garden.
I have a large garden. It was just fine when I moved in. I loved the avant-garde look of the building materials scattered randomly around. I was happy with my garden - it added a unique character to my plebeian palace. Neighbours commented but, in all modesty, I didn't dwell upon their remarks.
Then it all began to go wrong.
One day I arrived home to find a strange man digging up the place, going hammer and thong with shovel and spade as if his life depended on it, and it probably did, with herself scrutinising his every move. My nature patch was disappearing before my very eyes without so much as a by-your-leave.
In a few short days, he dug the ground a hundred times, then raked, harrowed and flattened to a point I could play snooker on it. Then the seed went down, and I haven't had a day's peace since.
It looked grand for a while, little shoots miraculously sprouting through the brown earth, with nothing to disturb the tranquil scene except herself roaring at me about the poor little birds who were trying their best to rescue me by feasting on the seeds. The birds failed in their commendable task and soon the little seeds multiplied into millions as nature intended, changing the colour of the whole scene, at first a nice chartreuse and then a darker shade of green until before we knew it the grass was six inches high. That was when the dream became a nightmare, and green vanished from my list of favourite colours.
Of course, it was the little woman who planned the lawn and hired the man to do it (my only involvement was paying the bill) but when it comes to cutting it, I quickly discovered where the nickname "er indoors" came about, for that's where she stays, issuing orders like a sergeant major expecting royalty to drop by and thinking up new ways to make sure I spend a premature retirement in a wheelchair.
Lest you misunderstand, let me state quite clearly that I love gardens. They are lovely places to sit in and close your eyes on a warm summer's day (I remember the day well!) as you sup a cold can on the sun bed and soak up the old ultra violet (in ever-increasing abundance - thanks to that fortuitous hole in the ozone layer). Nothing could be nicer - as long as it's someone else's garden. Sit in your own for two minutes and you can only see the faults, the millions of things you know are not up scratch.
The only hope I have is that some television show will accept my offer to use the place as the "before" in a garden make-over programme. They could come along every week and keep you all informed of the progress as they devise the perfect garden for the non-gardener, preferably with loads of concrete patios and rockeries - real rockeries with LOADS of ROCKS! A good big shed would render another good-sized lump of grass extinct.
Failing that, I think I'll move into an apartment - without window sills, just in case. 

© Ronan Quinlan  

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