Garden Lore

“The moment trees are in bud and the soil is ready to be worked, I generally come down with a crippling muscular complaint as yet unclassified by science. Suffering untold agonies, I nonetheless have myself wheeled to the side line and coach a small, gnarled man of seventy in the preparation of the seed-bed. The division of labor works out perfectly; he spades, pulverizes and rakes the ground, while I call out encouragement and dock his pay whenever he straightens up to light his pipe. The relationship is an ideal one, and I know he will never leave me as long as the chain remains fastened to his leg.”

S. J. Perelman Acres and Pains (1951).

Following an association of ideas from Collector this week, if you want to camouflage something in your garden, colour it matt dark-charcoal or black. The eye passes over it without registering it because the colour recedes into the background. Too often, gardeners think that if you paint something green, it will meld but it is very easy to get the wrong shade. Blue greens tend to stand out in the garden (which is why glaucous or blue foliage is often prized), yellow greens can look a bit yuck and there are some ghastly synthetic-looking greens. I saw friends get it wrong with a green fence which really, they should have painted black. It stood out like a sore thumb when they wanted it to merge discreetly into the background.

The same goes for plant ties, permanent stakes, supports, ugly tanks or even trellis screening – anything that is necessary but you don’t want to notice. Just don’t go for a high gloss finish.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.