I never forgot the title of this book, written by Mirabel Osler, its subtitle being 'reflections from an English garden'. In it, the author makes a plea to leave as much of your garden as natural as possible for the wildlife and nature in general.
My garden is big, blowsy, unruly and fecund; that's the way I like it. Most people love it here, but there are some who criticise and can't see past the so-called weeds, the untrammelled and untrained, the seed heads and stalks left, the wild plants that are so useful in many ways both to me and the creatures tha visit and live in my garden.
For me, a garden is a very, very personal statement of yourself - when you garden, you put your very heart and soul into it, or you should, but there are some people for whom this can never be the case because of the type of people they are - cold, soul-less, joyless, possessing a nasty, sneering, jealous, snide side to them. These peoples' gardens will never bring them happiness and contentment, and neither will their lives. You need a good soul to be a gardener.
I garden like I try to live my life - according to my own morals and ethics - take what I need and no more, leave plenty for others, share what I have and give thanks for the blessings bestowed upon me for living like I do.
A Friday night visitor knocking at the kitchen window turned out to be a maybug - lovely little things, but a bit scary until you know what they are. I particularly enjoyed seeing him, as it's the first one I've encountered since we moved here almost 14 years ago; we had lots of them when we lived further south east in the county.
We have what can only be described as an abundance of wildlife here - birds of all sorts, including sparrowhawks and woodpeckers, pheasants and wild ducks on occasion, flying and crawling insects, dragonflies, butterflies galore, newts and toads, the very occasional frog and slow worm, all sorts.
My point really is that I'm fairly certain that I would only see a tiny fraction of these were my garden to be neatly manicured, cut back, trimmed and 'tidied' to within an inch of its poor life if I tried to emulate what most people's idea of a country or cottage garden is like, as seen in the glossy magazines and usually very poorly copied and executed by people who rarely or never read a decent gardening book. There is more to gardening than planting named roses, having your carrots in a straight row and leaving bare soil between plants because it's 'tidy', buying plants because they are the 'in' thing this season, or trying to nurture any growing thing when your soil is lifeless and uncared for.
Bit like life really, get the foundations right and the rest will follow.
So, my own plea is to put your own heart and soul into your garden - never mind what others are doing and thinking, and keep a mind for the creatures other than human that we share the planet with.