The joy of gardening has always been a total mystery to me. It is hard work, never ending, and to see results of your labours you have to play the long game.
I am more of an instant gratification girl. I used to like that TV programme with Alan Titchmarsh and the woman who had no need of a bra. They used to sweep into someone’s garden and completely transform it from a barren wasteland to a decking clad, fully flowering paradise in about 72 hours. That is my kind of gardening.
Even having a mother who is literally OBSESSED with growing, digging, cutting back and planting, and a best friend who has made a career out of the soil (she has even opened her own nursery, well worth a visit if you find yourself on the Isle of Wight), I have still never been able to bring myself to have lively chats about hardy annuals.
There is a chink in my horticultural armour. I have grown something! Actually, a few things.
In between Christmas and New Year I spent a grumbly 90 minutes in the freezing rain and howling wind stuffing onions (I think ‘bulbs’ might be the technical term) into pots of earth (compost?).
My fingers went numb, my hair went frizzy, and my pink Converse got muddy. The whole experience confirmed that all my feelings towards gardens were truly justified. I retreated to the kitchen and sat glowering at the earth buckets as I defrosted with a cup of coffee.
But then, something happened. The onions stared to grow. Against my better judgement, and even though it went against all my principals, I started to take an interest. I made a good fist of pretending not to care. I channelled my inner 14 year old and treated the tiny shoots like they were a boy I really fancied. i.e. strolled nonchalantly into the garden pretending to be just putting the bins out whilst furtively casting desperate glances at the object of my desire.
Week by week they grew, and week by week I felt more excited until one sunny day I was greeted by the most lovely, brassy, uncoordinated mish mash of flowers (it was a sale bag of bulbs, a lucky dip of colours and varieties) all standing tall and proud, chests puffed out doing the tulip equivalent of jazz hands.
I am not saying that I am a convert. I will not be weeding, digging over or mulching anytime soon. But I did, just a tiny little bit, get it. My next project is a mini lavender farm to attract bumble bees – my contribution to protecting the ecosystem. I know they don’t look much at the moment but I’ve got high hopes. I’ll keep you posted.