Taking over other people's garden is always an interesting experience, not least because they may not have the same taste in plants. I remember when we first moved to our house in Sussex, the following spring was a huge shock as the garden burst into a riot of clashing rhododendron and azalea colours - bright pinks shouting alongside strident yellows. Coming from the cool, pale, everything must blend, school of gardening the effect made my eyes ache. When we left seven years later, the spring display was one of my favourite bits of the garden.
Our first summer here, I grumped somewhat at the sight of the pale lipstick pink rose hedge that runs the length of the swimming pool. Such a girly colour. I much prefer roses in deep reds and dark purples. But now, five winters on, I have just been pruning them and my heart lifts at the thought of their bursting into colour in May and blooming right through til the first frosts.
I love pruning. I follow my father's practice of pruning to within an inch of their lives. My mother was always terrified when my father set out into the garden with a set of secateurs in his hand. But I know that heady feeling. Suddenly everywhere I look there are twigs and branches just crying out to be brought under control.
The lipstick pink rose bushes were planted by someone before the previous owners. So that makes at least twenty winters someone has marched into the garden and attacked those bushes with a set of secateurs. And every year they come back and send up long green wands of new growth smothered in blossom. We take it for granted that pruning works, but it is one of nature's small miracles.
And I now have a great pile of cuttings that I can pop into pots that in time will give me new (free) roses for this large, unruly garden.
Must go now, got the wisteria to prune!