It's usually about now every year that I realise that my charmingly chaotic garden is actually an alarmingly shambolic garden and instead of floating around thinking "Ah nature is doing a wonderful job all on her own", I'm muttering things like "Oh do stand up dear" to a laden floribunda rose and "Hmm you're not supposed to be there" to an enormous crocosmia falling across a tiny path and "Please don't strangle poor Miss Wilmott" to the dreaded bindweed. It is time to get my scissors out and start Tidying Up.
I will only Tidy Up twice a year - the first time lasts from January to April which is quite enough tidying in one year really, so this time it is a quick frenzy of beheading and deadheading, ruthless trimming and maybe even a touch of strimming because it is also a busy time of year for my B&B and holiday cottage business.
I emerge from a hedge backwards secateurs in hand to greet guests, make tea and present cake with small twigs and nettles stuck in my hair and then head straight back to the garden, briefly groaning as I pass a mirror and realise how frightening I look.
And after a couple of days everything is looking much much better ...much tidier ...very pleasing...except there are gaps now, which is not pleasing at all and in fact I appear to have tidied away a lot of the flowers along with the mess. If I was a proper gardener I would have several summer flowering bulbs or annuals in pots ready to slip into the blank spaces, but I'm not, so I haven't and a trip to the garden centre is the only answer.
The garden centre knows I'm coming and has all its best plants flowering their hearts out, totally distracting me from my pledge to only buy things on my list. And they have a lovely garden to look around too, which makes me feel even more of a failure, so I have to go to their coffee shop and have some cake and then a quick visit to their salvage yard and a longer and expensive visit to their interiors shop too which makes me feel better briefly before I realise what I just spent on a pretty bowl could have bought three more plants.
And so back to the garden and slotting in the sparkling new plants into my rowdy borders and now I'm feeling sorry for them as they look so prim and proper in their new home, like sober newcomers at a drunken party.
Never mind, like new kids at school they'll be joining in with the gang next year and I'll be pleading with them to behave like a worn out schoolteacher and being ignored and it will all start all over again... I love gardening.