Nibbling away

Lying beside the pool while on our last vacation, surrounded by the extraordinary landscape of our resort hotel, I started thinking – not about lunch or what book to read next – but about garden maintenance. (Sheryl pointed out that I never stop thinking about work, even when we’re on a break – she’s right.) But it’s not my horticultural background that made me take a good look around. Any gardener on holiday in that setting couldn’t have helped wondering how this gorgeous collection of plants was being kept in a state of perfection.

Resort Pool

To answer that question I started snooping around. What I learned has fed me a great theory about garden maintenance generally – a fabulous tip, if you like. So if you’re the type of gardener who hates those periodic but necessary bursts of hard slog in the garden, read on…

To begin with, I divided the resort’s landscape into four main maintenance zones – the pathways; the garden beds; the lawns; and the massive pool lagoon. Then after a late breakfast we settled down onto two loungers for the day – Sheryl to her books and I to my stake-out.

To begin with, the garden looked hardly in need of maintenance but despite that, along came an inconspicuous pair of gardeners who quietly raked up the odd leaf, skimmed the surface of the pool and removed a few dying palm fronds. And the same happened again the next day, and the next. After which I understood that instead of a fortnightly binge approach, this garden was being magnificently managed in baby steps. Then the penny dropped because that’s exactly how our 10 acre plant trial gardens near Melbourne (Australia) are managed by one professional horticulturalist who quietly goes about his business two days per week.

So here comes the Big Tip. I believe gardening is best done in pleasant little bites rather than exhausting attacks. And I wonder whether this was the way it was once done, but now that we are all so time-poor, maybe we feel forced to book in mega-gardening sessions? Perhaps too we’ve been influenced by the professional garden maintenance crews who like mini armies, kit up and are deployed. But they need to get in, blitz, and get out to make their living. (It also helps if your plants are easy-care, but I digress, yet again…)

So I suggest to anyone who feels gardening has become a burden, gather your energies for one last big blitz. Get everything ship shape then continue on from there slowly, pleasurably and with the most astonishingly rewarding results. It’s what I’ve been doing ever since I returned from our holiday…


Caesalpinia pulcherrima – growing in the dappled shade of the palms.




One Response to Nibbling away

  1. Graciebelle February 14, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    Boy, I’d love to be able to follow their landscape designer around for a day – just to see how they make the decisions on what to plant and where in what appears to be a tropical paradise!

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