English Country Garden

How many gentle flowers grow in an English country garden?
I’ll tell you now, of some that I know, and those I miss I hope you’ll pardon.
Daffodils, hearts-ease and flocks, meadow sweet and lilies, stocks,
Gentle lupins and tall hollyhocks,
Roses, fox-gloves, snowdrops, forget-me-knots in an English country garden.

How many insects find their home in an English country garden?
I’ll tell you now of some that I know, and those I miss, I hope you’ll pardon.
Dragonflies, moths and bees, spiders falling from the trees,
Butterflies sway in the mild gentle breeze.
There are hedgehogs that roam and little garden gnomes in an English country garden.

How many song-birds make their nest in an English country garden?
I’ll tell you now of some that I know, and those I miss, I hope you’ll pardon.
Babbling, coo-cooing doves, robins and the warbling thrush,
Blue birds, lark, finch and nightingale.
We all smile in the spring when the birds all start to sing in an English country garden.

This lovely old song sums up the appeal of gardens in England.  I think there are few countries where people take much pride in the little space around their houses, there is certainly some competition between neighbours and so it was with shame that I sat in my garden and observed that it looked poor compared to next door’s garden.  This is a situation that must be corrected.

As the song says, there is a great wealth of plants found here and the potential for a truly green lawn as well as a refuge for wildlife in our increasingly crowded island.

Britain is a temperate country and this favours gardening.  Gardeners worry about all sorts of things but the most worrying is the collapse of the bee population worldwide.  Bees of course, are not simply the carriers of pollen from one pretty plant to another but a vital conduit of crop fertilization worldwide.  Bee population collapse is no minor agriculture issue and the subject of frantic research that has linked problems to various things including pesticides and climate change.

Historically, gardens were vital sources of food for the rural poor but even in their gardens you would have found the odd lupin or rose.  Many plants such as St John’s Wort, had medical uses before our wonderful free National Health Service was born.     

During the Second World War, gardens were an important source of extra nutrition and almost every inch would be planted with vegetables or fruit which would be preserved for winter in pickles or jams.  The traditional busy country garden is still very popular but of course, is less given over to food production.

Gardens unfortunately, have gradually shrunk lately and the limited space needs careful.  Garden design is quite an industry these days and we might have seaside style gardens, Zen gardens or container based gardens that utilize the smaller space available   Perhaps, private gardens are aspiration of beautiful and safe privacy but even those without gardens can enjoy a public park.

A peacock at Kew Gardens in Autumn

Wishing you well in your beautiful places in the last days of summer.