My left-hand neighbours are keen gardeners. They have cultivated, in the two years they've been there, an amazing selection of plants set in neat little borders with everything contained within walls, stones or paving. The pond contains fish which Ulysse tries to catch every morning and a gently lapping fountain which plays on summer days to our delight as we don't have the bother of looking after it, but get the benefit of its cooling trickling music.
My garden, on the other hand is the poor relation. Where the neighbours have a mini lawn around their fig tree, I have coarse grass and weeds. Where they have elegant pottery pots with luscious flowers of various sorts, I have plastic pots of geraniums and grow-bags of tomatoes. Oh well, I do get a lovely view of someone's else's effort when I look left out of my bedroom window, and a sniggering gratifying feeling when I look right and see the state of my other neighbour's plot.
They have been working on it this spring, but it still looks like a bald, parched bit of wasteland sporadically dotted with the odd tree and a patch of flowers set in a lonely square of low wooden stakes. I'm not sure garden design is something they spend much time on. Mind you, me neither but then my house is rented. Were it mine, I would terrace the garden as it's on an inconvenient slope and every time we have a monsoon-like storm, we get major mud flows which gush downwards from the fence. I'm sure my pathetic attempts at stalling the soil erosion by planting morning glory will do little, but I'm ever-optimistic and soldier on anyway.
Next-door-but-one, Jacques has gone for variations on a theme of green by planting different varieties of ivy which cascade trendily over his stone wall, and mows his lawn with a non-motorised mower. I didn't know they still existed, but there his is, muscles flexing as he pushes it along, collecting the cuttings to put away neatly out of sight.
Does a garden's state reflect the gardener's general desire or lack thereof for order? Our neighbours have a lovely tidy interior, lacking in knick-knacks, but then that's very French. They seem to enjoy minimalist decor whereas the English like a cosy feel with souvenirs from Brighton alongside granny's carriage clock, family photos, pots of pot pourri, vases of flowers, the odd box of chocolate left over from Christmas, collections of Wedgewood plates, mugs, little houses, wooden boats and with loads of pictures on the walls. I go more for clean disorder. After all, who was it who said 'A tidy home is the sign of a wasted life'?
I mean, if I tidied instead of blogged, my house would be immaculate...