My track record in the garden is a litany of failed attempts. That was until now. Under the strict direction of my current consort I took an active part in developing what has proven to be a successful and, if I may say so, eye-catching wildflower garden.
Regular readers will know that I have an on-going concern about the state of the planet and the debilitating impact we human beings are having on it, especially when it comes to biodiversity.
In an effort to conserve more safe and nutritious space for the birds and the bees we agreed to desist from strimming the edges and headlands letting them to go wild. We strim now only in late October or early November.
On the down-side, we continued to render our sizeable lawn uninhabitable for most species as we burned up gallons of petrol and hours of precious time mowing the thing. Last summer, after much consideration, we decided to dig up a chunk of it and return it to nature as a wildflower garden.
Surely even a clutz like my good self could manage wild gardening? Is it not simply a matter of throwing the seed around and letting nature do the rest? However, herself and myself were warned that it was a far more complex proposition than we might have thought.
Quite a few friends, some with impressive track records and qualifications in affairs horticultural, described their failed and expensive attempts at cultivating wildflowers, a contradiction in terms one would think.
Having made up our minds we contacted wildflower expert, Sandro Caffola of Wildflowers.ie, based in Carlow. Sandro was more than helpful and informative, giving us step-by-step instructions regarding preparation of the ground and planting the seed. He told us not to come back to him until we had all the preparatory work done; there was no point spending money on seed until then.
The first job was to break the ground. A neighbour who was in the process of reseeding land came to our assistance and asked his contractor to drop in to our plot and do the necessary with his power harrow. Our next task was to remove all existing vegetation.
A mixture of new-fangled organic concoctions and more regular brews did the job.
The plot then had to be left alone until a soft covering of vegetation re-emerged and it was sprayed again. This brought us to mid-July. In mid-August the ground was harrowed a second time, followed a few weeks later by the last dose of spray.
In September we phoned Sandro and ordered the seed, which duly arrived. After sowing it by hand we raked and rolled it to seal the ground.
As the great storyteller Eamonn Kelly would say, 'things rested so' and we let Mother Earth do her thing. The birds showed keen interest as soon as the seed was sown and while it caused us some concern that the fruits of our labours might be gobbled up, we made peace with the eventuality.
We were also concerned that the ground was too good. Experts agree that wildflower gardens do best in poorer land, but the particular piece of ground we had chosen was renowned locally as a good spot for growing spuds.
To add to our worries our horticultural friend arrived one day to survey the work and, with typical border-country understatement, complained, "Ye didn't kill yourselves picking the stones before ye sowed the seed."
We needn't have worried. As April gave way to May, green shoots emerged and in June they burst out all over in a profusion of blues and whites and navies and yellows and purples and reds, as corncockles, cornflowers, marigolds and poppies, to mention but a few, blossomed into life.
To complement the wildflowers, we allowed much more of the lawn go wild.
As manicure gave way to mayhem, the place came alive with birds and bees, bringing colour and pleasantry of all kinds.
In September, when the flowers fade, the stalks must be cut down by scythe or finger-bar mower so that the seeds will fall evenly around the plot. The dead stems will be removed like hay and nature takes over again.
We won't think about that just yet - we'll just enjoy the colours, the life and the moment.