A Garden In My Mind.

In my summer garden there are a lot of beautiful things. I know them all really well and I like to look at them. Let me show you.

I want to take you into the front garden first. This is where I play show jumping and sit on my swing. Look down here in front of the bay window. I like this bush because it has lots of red berries. In spring, just down here, there are tiny white flowers that the bees like. I know their name. Lily of the Valley.  They feel soft when you stroke them and they smell nice. This big bush over here next to the drive is the same kind as the one under the window, only really big. Three times as tall as me! It’s been growing for years and years and years. There are holes in it and you can see right inside. Go very quietly and you can look at something special. Can you see it? It’s a blackbird’s nest. Is she there? She has four eggs and when the babies are born she flies really fast in and out and I find caterpillars for her. There are loads of caterpillars on the sprouts and the cabbages, green and yellow ones. Sometimes I help them up the side of the garage so that they can crawl under the roof and wait to be new butterflies and sometimes I let her feed them to her babies. In the autumn there are millions of spider’s webs on this bush and if you come out early in the morning you can see them lit up with cobwebs. You can’t see them now because it’s autumn magic but they are still there.

Do you like this big clump of grass over here? It’s black and white and I know the word for it. It’s called variegated. I think granddad put it here because it looks nice next to the yellow hedge. My gran wants him to pull it out but I don’t. Our cat Judy likes to sit behind it. Come round to the other side and I’ll show you the roses. I make perfume with the petals but only when they drop off because otherwise I’ll get into trouble, I think I do it wrong because it only smells nice for a bit then it goes brown and horrible and I have to throw it away. I have to keep this stone birdbath in the middle filled up with water so that the birds can have a drink. Sometimes they splash it all out and I have to fill it up all over again nearly straight away but I don’t mind. This green stuff is called horsetail. Look, it’s all right,  I can pull this up because it’s a weed and granddad doesn’t like it. See? When you turn it upside down it looks like a horse’s tail, only green. It’s very special because it has grown for millions and millions of years and even my granddad can’t stop it.

These cherry trees are very pretty aren’t they? They are ornamental though and that means we can’t eat them. I don’t like cherries but my mum does. Once there was a swarm of bees came and attached themselves to a branch and a man came with a basket thing and knocked them down into it. He was really pleased. I like them best in Spring when they are all pink but the big May tree across the road is even nicer. You’d like it here in Spring. There are lots of special flowers then and I know where they all will be.

That hole in the hedge down there is where our beagle Candy gets out. She likes to follow her nose and I have to go and get her back. She always goes the same way. It’s a very big hedge isn’t it? It takes my granddad days and days to cut it with his shears. Sometimes I help a bit but my arms get tired. Those special shapes at the top are called topiary. The yellow birds on the front hedge are topiary as well. I don’t know what that means.

This soft plant here, the one with fat squidgy leaves, has tiny pink flowers all close together. The butterflies love it, especially the red admirals and peacocks. I once saw eight of them on there all at once. They put their curly tongues out and when they are full of nectar they get really stupid. You can put your finger under them and lift them up and they will sit very still on your finger. The cabbage white butterflies who go on the vegetables won’t do that, just the butterflies who come on here.

I’ll take you round the back garden now. That’s where my granddad grows things to eat and so do I. That big wall of long thin plants growing up the wires, hiding the vegetables from the road, is my granddad’s favourite. They are sweet peas and I think their flowers are the best colours of all. I like the twirly things that they cling onto the wires with as well.

Those are our new potatoes. We’ve been eating them and sometimes I’m allowed to dig them up all on my own. You have to be very careful and put the fork underneath and lift, not put your foot on it and push it in. If you do that you’ll spoil them. I always look forward to when we can start eating them. When the potatoes get too big, later on, they have to be mashed or roasted all winter and I don’t like that so much.

There are lots of other vegetables in this big plot. My mum comes out and eats the peas raw. I have to shell them for dinner. I don’t like it because sometimes there are maggots inside eating the peas. They are all squashy and they wriggle and move about and I hate them. When I see one I throw the pod away under the hedge very fast. Those big strong plants with the black and white flowers are broad beans. I like those but only if you take the skins off. Those others are sprouts. You have to wait for them until they have had frost on them but I don’t mind because I don’t like them anyway. In autumn there will only be the sprouts left and we will have a big bonfire.

Do you want to see inside the sheds? Come down here then, past the big fuschia bush. That’s very interesting that bush because my granddad cuts it right down every October so that you can’t see anything at all and then it grows back huge like that every time. It’s my favourite plant except for the big lilies that grow under the kitchen window in the spring. They have big brown flowers and they smell bad but look beautiful. That’s our washhouse where mum and gran do the washing on Mondays. They light a big fire and heat up water and swish the clothes with a big stick and steam comes out over the door. There’s washing everywhere then, all over the garden, and I don’t like it because it gets in the way and you can’t see anything. They make rice pudding and we have cold meat for our dinner and I don’t like that much either. I like good drying days best when it’s windy and mum and gran are in a good mood. Then I follow my mum with a bag of pegs and pass them to her.

Wait a minute and I’ll get my rabbit out for you. He’s black and he’s two years old. He’s quite fat isn’t he. I call him Bingo. Did you hear him run to the back of his hutch to hide? Cleaning him out is my worst job. Look, you see, he’s calm now. He knows it’s me. See how soft his ears are? I’ll give him some dandelions and put him back.

Now, these are my granddad’s sheds. He’s got lots. This first one is for coal. The next one belongs to me. I would show you what it’s like inside but it has my secret things in it. Fossils and stuff. This big shed next to it, the one with glass windows, is where my granddad makes things. Put your head round the door- can you see the big vice? Sometimes I put pieces of wood in that and cut them up. There are hammers and I can bang nails in but I haven’t made anything really properly yet. I just like playing. My granddad makes birdhouses and he paints them but I don’t think the birds like them because they don’t go in. That hole down there at the bottom of the door is where the bumble bees live. I have to help them because they aren’t very good at taking off when they crawl out, so I put them on my finger and give them a lift off.

The next two are woodsheds. We have a lot of wood. My granddad likes wood. He fetches it back from all over the place and he spends a lot of time getting it ready so that we can burn it on the fire. The best things are right at the back here, near the hedge. This hutch has Bizzy in it. She’s a ferret and I don’t think anyone else knows that she’s called that. She catches rabbits down holes and she’s a bit fierce so I won’t get her out. She won’t bite me but she might bite you. You can feed the minnows in this water butt instead. Put a bit of that fish food on top of the water. They’ll come up for it and you can see their tiny mouths gulp. My dad uses them for live bait but I don’t like to think about that because it’s horrible.

Come into the greenhouse now. The door is open because it’s nice and warm today. Can you smell the tomatoes growing? A few of them are starting to go red. Those coloured plants are begonias. I know their name because my granddad talks about them a lot. He really likes them. He likes geraniums too but nobody else does because they make the house smell.   I’m allowed to pick the tomatoes later on when there are some ready. They are called Moneymakers. I don’t know why. The Bizzie Lizzies belong to me. They are pretty and they grow fast. I grow them because I like the name

This little piece of garden next to the greenhouse is my special place for growing things. I am growing radishes because they are bright red and I like to eat them with salt. I won’t eat green salad but I like radishes. I put some carrots in as well but my granddad told me they wouldn’t grow much and they didn’t.

We are going to have a lot of apples this year. Can you see all the little ones? This tree nearest to you is the eater. The other two trees are Bramleys and you can only make pies from them. I don’t help with picking the apples because they are too high up but I fetch the windfalls in and they get used. I have enough to do picking the raspberries, gooseberries, redcurrants and blackcurrants. I like doing the raspberries best because they come off easily and you don’t have to do anything else. The blackcurrants and redcurrants are fiddly and you have to top and tail them and the gooseberry bushes have spikes. Anyway the raspberries are the only ones I like to eat. I have to wait though. It’s clever how granddad has fitted everything in isn’t it, with the rasp canes all around the edge and the bushes under the trees. There’s one place where there’s just enough room to lie flat and look up at the sky through the branches but I get dirty doing that.

Come down this path and I’ll show you my special place. These pink roses on the arch and along the fence in front of the apple trees are my other favourite thing in the garden. They have hundreds of flowers and they wind everywhere. Here, look, this is my special place. See where I have put the sticks in between the big hedge and the bushes to make a roof? That’s my den. I go in there and hide when I don’t want to see anybody. It even keeps the rain out, more or less. I think I might go and sit in there for a bit now if that’s all right. Thank you for looking at my garden with me.

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