Some people have too much time," my mate Pete groaned recently as he was eating his lunch and I was chatting on the phone.
Guiltily, I quickly terminated the conversation and gave him my full attention.
"Not you, this," he said, showing me a photo in a garden magazine of a garden refuse storage unit.
It was a beautifully crafted, cedar weatherboard cupboard with two doors, inside of which was a made-to-measure space for the wheelie bin, three drawers to hold three kinds of recyclables, and a shelf above, ostensibly to store bags but more useful, we decided, to hang yourself from when you realised that some form of OTD (obsessive tidiness disorder) had taken over your life.
In my world, you carry the rubbish out to the wheelie bin, nudge the lid up with your elbow, drop everything in, shut the lid and put a stone on it to stop the dog doing her own version of recycling.
However, each to their own, as they say. But may I just ask, if your garden is so close to perfection that you can devote time to such a project, could you please come to mine and build me something I really do need.
I want a cross between a pergola and a covered walkway down the back of the house to shut The Landscaper up when he reminds me that insisting on putting in the posts for such a structure before designing the rest of it was a huge mistake.
The posts, despite being treated with something that is probably environmentally catastrophic, have warped at least 90 degrees, so I have to concede he is right. Pergolas are (or can be, provided you don't have OTD) delightfully simple things. Four uprights and four cross bars constitute a pergola and, depending on how smart you want it to be, can be erected by an amateur in an afternoon, and by a professional about twice as fast. Well, almost.
Even simpler, you can buy them ready-made or in kitset form from a hardware store, or from a smart design store, depending on how stylish you want to be.
And I think every garden should have one. Whether a simple, uncovered version or something with a roof and a library (yes, famous Aussie designer Jamie Durie designed one with a library - obviously some other form of OTD) a pergola can serve a number of purposes.
Mine is to act as both a clue to where our back door is and a visual improvement to the back of the house, but you may simply want something for a rose to climb up, a focal point for a sweeping lawn, or a defined space to contain a garden seat.
Some, like the exquisite, French-looking wrought iron styles you find in smart garden shops, need no enhancement. Others are improved by planting. It's wise to decide at the outset whether you want yours covered in greenery all year round, or whether a deciduous climber will allow sun into the space in the winter.
Happily you can have both on the same pergola, but like all successful partnerships, they have to live together in a spirit of co-operation and give each other space.