Finally, I have come to the conclusion I am a man of simple pleasures. Well, to be honest, I’ve known it for some time.
A little light deadheading, some gentle weeding with a hoe or a bit of judicious pruning with a pair of secateurs will all put me in a good mood.
But what gardeners need to do above all else is to remove from their gardens the things that irritate them. Yes, chaps, I know we’ll never get rid of the rotary washing line and the wheelie bins have to remain accessible but other areas can be improved.
I’m thinking particularly of gates. Do you have one that needs a great shove with your hip to open it or a kick with a well-placed foot? Or is it one with a catch as lethal as Arkwright’s till in Open All Hours?
If it is, you deserve a break – before the gate breaks you. Treat yourself to a new one or get out there with your saw, plane, screwdriver, hammer or whatever is needed to fix it.
The pleasure of a well-oiled, smoothly operating gate was brought home recently when we fenced in our garden pond with steel-hooped fencing. There are several gates to allow access from different sides of the pond.
Well, the pleasure these new gates have given me is ridiculous. They open so effortlessly, so smoothly and so quietly that I’ve taken to walking through them far more often than is necessary simply for the pleasure of doing so – I told you I was a man of simple pleasures.
And yet, gates are more than just dividers. They are invitations to explore – portals to paradise.
I make no grandiose claims for my garden but a pleasing gateway is a good start. A smooth and effortless entrance to a garden improves your mood in an instant and the gate can be chosen to suit its surroundings.
Choose one to suit your house and aspirations, whether its a traditional, ultra-modern, five-barred or park-style gate of hooped or branded steel. Hang it on sturdy posts securely bedded in concrete and checked to make sure they are perpendicular.
Make sure the gate fits comfortably and is kept oiled at both the hinge and the catch ends. Paint it and maintain it regularly, it will last for donkey’s years and you won’t reach the house or the pavement in a bad temper as you do after being forced to administer the hip flick or swift kick.
Simple? Yes, but surprisingly satisfying, too. And if you can’t do it yourself, get someone to do it for you.
Don’t miss Alan’s gardening column today and Tip Of The Week every weekday in the Daily Express.