Country mouse on Gertrude Jekyll

The great garden near home is at Upton Grey, where Rosamund Wallinger has restored one of Gertrude Jekyll’s gems over the past 26 years, and it has become, perhaps, the finest example of her work. The effort and the results are stupendous. The detail is remarkable. Rosamund has got to know Miss Jekyll better than many of her friends could have possibly done. I left in awe.

Back at home, goldfinches were feeding on the lawn-this was a direct consequence of my own neglect. In May, my grass had hosted such a plethora of golden dandelions that I thought them rather beautiful and didn’t have the heart to remove them as any proper gardener would. Now, the seed heads are attracting the gaudy finches, which scoot in from the ash tree chatting like twinkling bells. They make me happy, and I know they’ll stick around, as they’re also fond of the teasel seeds that are plentiful by our pond.

What I want, I realise, is two gardens-one that I could be proud of, like Rosamund’s, and another wild, shaggy place that the butterflies and birds will return to. But, as my mind casts back to Miss Jekyll’s garden and beyond the roses and peonies, I realise that the great lady did, in fact, incorporate little wild places, too. What a garden and what a gardener.