I have a confession to make: I am a front garden flâneur. That’s the fancy French term for it, you may prefer the plain English nosy parker.
It comes from the best part of a decade spent pushing a buggy along urban streets, trying to soothe a baby or toddler to sleep, or merely escaping the house before I go mad, and passing the time by ogling other people’s plants. Now my buggy pushing days are numbered (Littlest Weed turns 3 in just over a month), I will have to find a different excuse for sauntering aimlessly past and sticking my nose over the wall.
It must be hereditary. My mother used to excruciatingly embarrass me by wandering right in to strangers’ front gardens for a good sniff and on occasion to help herself to a cutting or two. When the owner emerged to see what this strange woman was up to she would merely smile and compliment them on a fine plant specimen. I have not yet reached this stage of the disease.
On routes that I take every day I begin to feel a sense of ownership of favourite plants – I look forward every year to the series of quite different Philadelphus on the school run, and I miss the garden near our old house belonging to a wonderful woman in her eighties that put on a glorious show of crimson tulips each spring (she told me she planted them when her husband died – in 1980!)
I am not sure of the privacy aspect of posting pictures of other people’s front gardens – they are already on view after all but I still feel I should ask permission. If I summon up the courage I might turn it into an occasional series.
In the meantime here are a few pics from my own front garden – much weeding is required – but I am pleased to see the 100 plus bulbs I planted in the autumn poking through. The beautiful blue Iris reticulata ‘Clairette’ I put in are already brightening up February, while the Daphne odora which came with the house turns walking up the garden path into a divine experience every time.
Later in the year we have lovely roses (that reminds me I must prune them). They are not to everyone’s taste though. Last summer a passerby irritated by roses tumbling down from our quite high garden wall at head height took it upon themselves to prune it for us!
I love Christmas because despite the lack of flowers in bloom, people actively invite you to look at their outdoor space with wreaths and fairy lights galore. I particularly liked this idea by one of our neighbours to hang dried orange slices from a Rosemary (I hope they don’t mind me posting it but it was right on the street).