They’re certainly no rival for the legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which went to rack and ruin, or, if you prefer, Iraq and ruin, centuries ago.
But on a day like today, when I’m even more than usual feeling the urge to risk writing something unduly personally and maritally revealing, or simply outright risqué, at least my new hanging gardens are a safe topic to babble-on about for a few hundred words.
The inspiration for what for me is a first in my horticultural history came not from a megalomanic or even grandiose desire to emulate one of the wonders of the ancient world, but from the simple fact that here Down-Under it’s the season of autumn, or what North Americans call the fall.
And as far as my house-garden is concerned, the term “fall” has been by far the more appropriate. Because with the gradual seasonal fall of the sun toward the horizon, the amount of light falling on most of my plants has fallen so close to zero that a great many of them had started to show signs of failing.
Clearly they had to be given more access to sunlight if they were to survive, let alone thrive, through autumn and winter. But how?
My daughter and her partner most kindly offered me space for my light-starved potplants in their far sunnier back garden. However, the thought of all the hard-labour involved in transporting them there and then back home again in a few months’ time was simply too much to bear.
And it was then that the truth of the old adage that “necessity is the mother of invention” came to the rescue. What about, I thought, placing the most sun-deprived and thus most likely doomed of my potted plants on the wall separating one side of my wife’s and my abode from the adjoining footpath and street?
Warming to what at first struck me as a bright if not brilliant idea, I reasoned that this ugly concrete-block structure is in the sun all day long, whatever the season, and wide enough on top for small-to-medium-sized pots to stand with sufficient stability to be safe..
And the plants in them would hang down most attractively as they grew in the sun, instead of drooping and no doubt eventually dying in the shade where they were. As with every good idea, however, there were possible downsides.
The first that struck me was that, if the wall was/is about six feet tall at its highest point and five feet at its lowest, thus making it possible for me to water plants sitting on it, what was to stop passers-by from purloining them for themselves? Or from the perhaps even worse fate of being pushed off the wall by vandals for the simple, perverse pleasure of destroying them?
But despite such misgivings I persisted with the project, and now, weeks later, I’m very happy that I did. Not so much as a sign of theft or vandalism so far, either attempted or actual.
In the early stages I had mixed feelings on these scores; my gladness that my plants seemed perfectly safe from heist or harm mingled with a sense of sadness that maybe it was because nobody had even noticed that the poor things were there.
But now that most of them have survived and even been revitalised in their new, sunlit spot, and a few have even taken to hanging down a little and even flowering, I’ve observed that they’re starting to attract a few people’s attention, or even admiration.
So for the next few months, all I really have to do is keep them adequately watered while I’m hanging around waiting for spring. And in the meantime, instead of copping-out as here, today, by writing about gardening instead of other unduly controversial or unwisely confessional subjects, I’ll have to come up with some alternative trivial topics to keep harmlessly babbling-on about.