DOWN towards the end of what I affectionately call ‘the back garden’ where a puddle of snowdrops in February gives way to scented lilies in June and the view from the boundary fence runs out towards the depths of Kerry, you will find my plant purgatory.
All keen gardeners have such places, most tucked away in camouflaged, unseen corners.
Here, my eclectic collection of plants and cuttings continue to languish in the many stages of neglect, starvation, even death.
Struggling for life in restricting plastic pots, yogurt containers and butter tubs, their frugal existence is extended by the minimal nutrients remaining in a horrible mix of soil and old potting compost.
The inmates of this shameful corner hold the seeds of all my good intentions, but I kid myself time and time again that I will deal with them next week or the week after that.
“Where do all these plants come from” you might well ask?
Well, over the months (and years in some cases) many were sourced at club sales tables, more again arrived through impulse purchases.
The same kind of activity goes on at open garden events, fundraising evenings, even car boot sales, so that eventually, one will have collected (and paid for), more plants than can ever be brought to successful maturity.
Unwanted gifts and excess propagation are also responsible but wherever and however they originated, they now form a colony of survivors waiting to be committed to a place in the garden proper.
For all that, one could just as easily get a genuine treasure, a true bargain, the kind of plant one would search for in vain for but seldom expect to find.
I have often found such a plant, one meticulously labelled, expertly propagated, and in the kind of vigor one would expect from a nursery or specialised outlet.
It does indeed happen but unfortunately, not too often. Meantime, I avert my eyes as I pass, and the roots of my ragged collection continue to circle and scream in their plastic penitentiaries.
This shameful admission has brought me to today’s rambling - neatness in the garden!
I cannot lay too great an emphasis on the neatness in which all gardens should be kept.
This goes for ladies along with gentlemen - it is important to remember that if their creation is not beautifully neat it is nothing.
In saying all this, I now ask that areas (like my plant purgatory) and any remaining weeds, leaves, dying frosted foliage, and wind-blown rubbish which, at this pinched time of winter, is still littering the garden, be removed.
These, and the plants in plastic containers still lying around only harbour slugs, snails, and vine-weevil grubs which will eventually spread adding more and more misery for you.