Mar 16, 2011
G is for Garden [The A-Z of Step-Parenting]
A garden, if you’re lucky enough to have one, is a space to be enjoyed by all. Therefore it would make sense that all would enter into the work ethic of keeping it maintained.
Not a chance but for a change this is at my insistence. I have often wondered why you can drive through any housing estate and see many men tending to their petunias and daffodils whilst attempting to put neat lines into grass.
The answer of course is simple – it’s an enjoyable job which keeps you out of harm’s way within what can often become a war zone. It is a place of sanctuary and if designed correctly can become an area awash with ‘hidey holes’. When I first moved in with my wonderful family the garden resembled an overgrown council tip with various bits of broken flag stones, old barbecues and a never ending supply of footballs tastefully adorning the edges.
As is my want, I got stuck in and after several visits to the tip we had what could only be described as a neater space. I had been struck with a brainwave of turning one of the corners into one such ‘hidey hole’ which required the delivery of sand and stones. The first job was to remove the top layer of grass and flatten the area. Back breaking work. After several hours of lugging dirt forwards and backwards and in sight of the finishing line one of my step sons came out to ‘help’. Thank you very much but where were you four hours ago?
Having said that the space was now taking shape, and once the trampoline had been not so carefully demolished, a clear picture was to be seen. I spent that particular summer carefully cutting the grass in an identical pattern each weekend. I planted well thought-out bedding plants and regularly trimmed anything that needed trimming.
Time to invite the family, friends, friends of friends and their children for an afternoon barbecue. Instructions had been dished out with regards as to how the garden should be looked after and how to approach anyone who might not value our hallowed turf as much as we do. All had understood and all had agreed. Obviously some had nodded but not agreed, as I returned from a trip to the fridge to find a temporary football goal set up with one of the large pots being used as a post whilst the row of lobelia was being used as part pitch marking! Before I am accused of being unreasonable, there is a perfectly good road at the front of the house where the kids have only got to dodge the cars to enjoy themselves!
I have therefore taken the time to enforce a family rule and create a clear wooden sign to remind all of their responsibilities towards the upkeep of the garden: ‘Keep off the grass!’