The first week of school is over and we are all shattered: the children already look slightly grey and, after just five days, I am completely sick of the school run. A quick poll of fellow parents at the school gates on Friday proved that I am not alone. Not that this helps much, but it does go some way towards making me feel less inadequate.
Over the weekend we tried to get a grip on the things that regularly conspire to bugger up the week: lost uniform; nits; lost homework; nits; ill-fitting daps (that’s Bristolian for plimsolls, which are in turn quite distinct from trainers); lunch boxes filled with half-eaten yoghurt; nits; letters and forms from teachers relating to all sorts of events which will, if ignored, come back to haunt me and a child will cry. The riot act was read several times, the volume ranged from cold hiss to very loud. Only the garden behaved itself and provided these flowers for my parents, who came to stay on Sunday night.
I think that perhaps the first week back at school is a little like the first bicker-filled weekend of the holidays. It’s a hellish stand-off during which you have to make it clear, again (how long will it take them to learn this particular, and to my mind, rather simple lesson?), that you don’t enjoy being treated like a skivvy and that please and thank you are non-negotiable. By Sunday evening all the attitude, tears and general moaning seemed to have blown over. Yesterday I bundled them off to school with almost cheery faces – mine being the cheeriest of all, of course. My mum and I then went on a fantastic tour of Bristol’s garden centres in search of plants to fill those late summer gaps. Anemones were at the top of both our lists.
Back in London my mother gardens two plots. One is her own garden in which she has to work around a design she inherited from the previous owner and which is, quite literally, set in stone. It is a paved courtyard and all attempts to increase the size of the beds only result in the excavation of vast amounts of rubble and concrete. The second garden has been created from scratch on a plot of land which belongs to a neighbour and sits to the side of her house. When she took it on it was nothing more than slightly scrubby grass, but now, three years on, it is a really beautiful communal garden. Annoyingly I don’t have any photographs, but my mum has kept a record and I will write about it at some point as it’s a brilliant demonstration of what can be done on a tiny budget.
And talking of budgets, Henleaze Garden Shop came up trumps with one of the widest selections of anemones at the best prices (£1.75, £3.99 and £5.99 depending on pot size). In the end I came home empty handed having found it impossible to choose between Anemone hupehensis ‘Splendens’, Anemone x hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’, ’Queen Charlotte’, ‘September Charm’ and ‘Whirlwind’. I wanted them all, but space is getting tight in some parts of the garden, and elsewhere beds will be completely re-worked in the spring. But of course now is the perfect time to buy these plants as they are in flower, and will look glorious for another month, maybe more. I will certainly return to HGS in the next week or so, but only once I have really considered these options and worked out where the plants will go. An anemone update will no doubt follow.