Thursday, January 21, 2010

Moving matters #2: Seeing things through others' eyes

Well, things are progressing rapidly on the house-moving front: we've had our HIPs report done (what are they for, exactly?) and now we've had the details drawn up, so on my desk I have a leaflet all about our house as seen by others.

This has been something of an eye-opener. You get so used to complaining about this or that little niggle, and carping on about the stuff that you know needs doing but you haven't got around to, that you forget that overall it's not actually that bad. In fact, it's quite nice, really.

This is particularly so with the garden. I know just how dreadful my garden is: after all, I've seen all those perfect gardens you go visit during summer, and I know what a good garden looks like. Not like my garden, that's for sure.

Whenever I look at my garden, I see the borders near the house which don't have as much winter structure as they should and are an odd shape which I've been meaning to change for years. Then the middle section is what can only be politely described as a "work in progress": we've had an ongoing bonfire there for a while and that's where all the piles of compost or sand or bricks have been dumped while we've been doing our bits of landscaping. The kids' area, where the fishpond is, needs a bit of a weed-through and there's a path to be put in.

The wildlife pond and exotic-ish garden are another work in progress: the intended boardwalk is still just planks on the ground. And the muddy chicken run with its half-pruned apple trees (a current project but temporarily kiboshed by the foul weather) is hardly a model fruit garden.

But get this. Someone comes round our house to see what we've got, and although admittedly they're trying to sell the place, they can't actually lie. And this is what they wrote about my garden.

The front is "landscaped with deep semi-circular well-stocked border" and "pretty beech hedging". And as for the back: it's "very substantial", apparently, and those odd-shaped beds near the house are transformed into "formal gardens" with "well-stocked shrub and flower borders". Our chicken-run apple trees are a "mini-orchard" and we have a "large timber shed", "triple compost heap" and "mature trees".

Blimey, I'd go and look at it myself if I read that lot. I don't know whether to laugh at the triumph of estate-agent speak over reality, or wonder if my garden is, really, a bit nicer than I thought it was. For now I think I shall just allow myself to be very flattered.


Ms B said...

If you think about it you ought to like the description of your garden because it is yours. You get very involved in the short-comings of it & often that is all you can see because that is what you are trying to improve. It is always good to see your garden how others see it & then you can congratulate yourself on your achievements. So well done!

VP said...

I think we're our own worst critics when it comes to our own gardens. Lots of our visitors say 'wow' when they come into the garden for the first time and I have to bite back an awfully long list of things I think are wrong with it, smile sweetly instead and thank them for their compliment.

So, I suspect the estate agent is closer to the truth than you are for once! Well done :)

Plant Mad Nige said...

HIPS are a classic example of the heavy handed, well-meaning but pointless and ineffectual legislation that has deluged from this admin-crazy government. Nobody wanted them, nobody likes them, nobody finds them useful. I hope the next government - no doubt equally hopeless, but in a different way - will abolish them.

Two searches done on our current house contradicted each other on key points and one of them even suggested that the building was at extreme risk from Radon gas - when there isn't an igneous rock within a hundred miles of our deep, estuarine silt.

As for your garden - it sounds wonderful. Surely, when a garden ceases to be 'work in progress' it's time to move.

Arabella Sock said...

I'm with Veep on the 'own worst critic' stuff and drawing attention to my gardens shortcomings rather than accept a compliment.

If I moved I would prefer a garden that was fairly devoid of plants and design so I could impose my own will on it. I think this isn't true of many people who would prefer at least some structure and planting but a few bits they could dabble with so your garden sounds perfect.

The Constant Gardener said...

You are all extremely kind, and thank you - I'm feeling even more chuffed now!

Ms B - you are entirely right, I think everyone should get someone in to do an objective assessment of their gardens from time to time (if they dare). They may well find as I have that the results are really quite cheering. Especially if that someone is an estate agent.

VP I don't think I've ever had anyone say "wow" once they've got past the front bit of my garden but I do get the odd compliment especially in summer when things are looking a bit more flowery. Am not at all surprised people say "wow" at your garden though as I've seen the photos :D

Nige - entirely agree about this government and the next one. The negatives being thrown up on our house are already a bit daunting as the two that have arisen so far are nothing we can do anything about (and have actually never bothered us at all in the 8 years we've been here so we're left wondering what everyone's making such a fuss about). I hate selling houses. Also I think I agree with you about the work in progress thing though since I've never had a garden that isn't a work in progress I have yet to find out for sure.

And Arabella - I don't suppose you're thinking of moving to Surrey? :D

elizabethm said...

I agree - we all see our garden's shortcomings because that is what jumps out at us as we move around. Your garden sounds really lovely. I particularly like the sound of the mini orchard!

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