There is a garden down the street on the way to the train station which I have developed a nasty bundle of feelings about. Basically it looks really, really good. Maybe too good. It's very obviously been designed, laid out, planted and cultivated at great expense by someone with taste, knowledge, restraint, money, nerve, and absolutely no susceptibility to freak whims or passing fancies. They have one really magnificent and huge redgum, a single young and pretty silver birch, and basically the rest of it is big mossy rocks, weathered ti-tree mulch, and big clumps and drifts of yellow and bronze cordylines, windmill grass, silvery foliaged yellow everlasting daisies and gazanias, and dotted all over are these fluffy little tufts of acacia called "Limelight" which look exactly like lime green vegetable versions of Dougal from The Magic Roundabout. Like a total fashion victim I have already acquired some baby ones of these although deep down I know perfectly well that A) three is not enough to make a Statement and mine will only look like the other lame copycat garden in the street, where they stuck two in next to the overgrown hebes and grevilleas that have sat there undisturbed since 1976; and B) even if I went back to the market next week and bought a shitload more, I'd still just be imitating the people down the street. And everyone would know it. C) Also, these sorts of plants, in our time, are pretty much what miniature box hedges and standard iceberg roses were to the 1980s & mondo grass and sacred bamboo was to the 1990s. I.e. a massive cliche. (Apologies to anybody reading this who has a mondo grassed garden. You know yours is the exception.) I know this but I can't help wanting to plant a whole squad of expensive, stunted and fluffy lime green trees. They're just so cute.
I do think the basic principle of picking a theme and sticking with it is a good idea, especially if you are not a very good gardener and probably can't manipulate your many different plants into some sort of natural harmony. To this end, along with the acacias in the back yard there are some pots of orangey-flowering plants acclimatising to local conditions before being introduced to their new places of residence. To be honest, the theme at present is a bit narrower than just orangeyish blooms: it is orangeyish Aussie blooms with unsuitably suggestive names. So far I have Red Hairy Erica; Cockies Tongues; banksia seminuda; and if the rose growers can supply them, I'm going to order a bunch of bare-rooted Ian Thorpes, which are a lovely butch shade of fake tan.
But really, even thinking along these lines is deluded, because the front yard is dominated by a fat, dirty, smelly, inelegantly squat Italian cypress which is ugly from the street but looks even more horrible from the house because it is all dead on the back. The tree is more appropriate to a gloomy unvisited boneyard or an Arnold Böcklin painting than to the view from my bedroom window. It doesn't even succeed in screening out our sightlines straight into the lives of the bogans who live over the road.
I won't lie. I want to cut this tree down (well, I want to cause it to be cut down by someone else) and in its place put something less funereal, more Australian, and which won't cast a thick shade over three-quarters of the yard for three-quarters of the day. But, the dead back branches aside, the tree is healthy and mature, and in this municipality they don't really like it when you take away trees. In fact they make it really difficult for people to do this, and the suburb is undoubtedly much nicer because of that. So the hassle factor is offputting. But on the other hand, bugger it. It's my place, and it's not as if I want to concrete the whole garden over, I just want to grow a different kind of tree in it.