The residents committee has just named my neighbour as having an outstanding garden and to my embarrassment has named and shamed us as having a poor garden with little prospect of improvement. My neighbour certainly has a well maintained garden that is not only colourful all year round but has carefully selected plants and flowers to encourage the bees and butterflies. They have even considered what the garden should smell like from the back door or when the conservatory windows are open. They are always in the garden following frequent trips to the local garden centre.
I’m pleased for them and said so to the members of the committee who came to give me advance notice on their assessment of my garden but you can’t compare our gardens. It’s true my garden is “unimaginative”, it’s just scrubby grass with worn patches, a rather ugly trampoline with side netting in the corner and a couple of broken saplings. Not helped I agree by the rust old but still useable large barbecue and the cheap plastic garden table and chairs. But my neighbours garden is one to sit in and enjoy the sights and smells mine is a play ground for three kids and a dog. The grass is worn from football and cricket and various chasing games often involving the dog. The trampoline has been a great success and an excellent way to burn off excess energy -out side. The saplings were a well intended mistake they were never going to get the chance to grow big, strong and beautiful in this environment. And the kids love a barbecue.
The committee response was to point out that my neighbour on the other side also had children who liked to play football and they had a simple but effective garden with a lush green lawn and a strikingly elegant line of silver birch trees. Which again is true only the grass just looks real and those silver birches were bought at great expense as mature trees planted by the same people that laid the artificial turf. It is very effective and very practical but the cost! If I had that much to spend my first priority would not be the garden. Well may be a new barbecue and replace the rather weather worn umbrella but the bathroom and kitchen need work doing.
I was reminded of this as a read a recent inspection report which named and shamed a local authority and strongly recommended that they seek a partnership arrangement with one or both of their neighbours who have received excellent and outstanding reports.
Throw some more sausages on the barbecue boys.
Blair Mcpherson former Director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk