Saturday, 4 August 2007

seven things about me and gardening

Okay, I gritted my teeth and didn't do it (unlike Rhys' mum - and good on her). But I do have *loads* of vans in my eBay watch list and we DO need a second vehicle and there are about a million reasons why a camper would be a good thing. AND we've been discussing it for about a fortnight, too.

In the meantime, Tea and Cake has tagged me for a 'seven things about me and gardening' meme.

  1. I come from a gardening background. The job description of each of my parents is officially 'horticulturalist'. But as I grew up, I didn't really like gardening. Gardening meant that no-one had any time to spend with us as kids. Tomatoes were particularly loathsome. We always had two or three 60 foot or 120 foot greenhouses *full* of tomatoes. In the summer, the family revolved around tomatoes. Every day someone was watering tomatoes, picking tomatoes, grading tomatoes, pulling old tomato plants out of the greenhouses, planting tomatoes, choosing which tomatoes would go in next year.

    Two or three times a week during the summer would be tomato picking and grading days. Everyone would pick fruit in to yellow two gallon buckets, which would be loaded in to the Morris Minor van in two or three layers and driven up to the top shed to the grader. And Great Uncle Ignatius would have spent either the day before or the morning before making up 12lb cardboard tomato boxes from the flat-pack way they arrived. The grading process took hours. Three or four people, three or four hours. A couple of people to keep the shute full of fruit, pick out the splits and mis-shapes and wipe the dirty ones. A couple of people to swap the boxes from under the drop-mechanism when they were full, weigh them, mark them with the size of fruit, stamp them and stack them.

    When I was little, I used to help make the boxes and I used to ride my bike up and down the drive while they worked, trying to stay on without stabilisers. As I got older I used to help weigh and stamp. I can remember being very proud at the age of eleven or twelve when I could lift four of the twelve pound boxes at once.

    And as I got even older, I can remember resenting the whole thing. The fact that everyone would put so much work in and the price we got for them was so low. The fact that it made everyone so tired. And that at the end of the day, everyone would end up reeking of tomatoes, washing their hands and hair until the water ran yellow with the residue of the leaves.

    As a young child I used to like tomatoes - and in my teens I loathed them. Now, I've come to a reconciliation with myself. I have grown eighteen tomato plants this year and they are taller than I am, and weighed down with enormous fruit. And I got a HUGE kick when Ma visited a few weeks ago and was impressed by them.

  2. I like growing scented things, old fashioned things. Different kinds of lavender, old roses. I like plants that climb - clematis, wisteria. I already have a Garden Plan for the new house, involving lots of scented, rambling things that will grow up the wall of the house and tap on the windows in the wind.
  3. Wherever I have lived for the last ten years I have had some kind of herb garden. Not just culinary herbs like parsley and oregano - medicinal and household ones, too; feverfew for headaches, rue to keep out insects, lavenders to dry and bring in to the house and put in between the sheets in the chest of drawers. My latest addition is woad - I might have a go at dyeing with it next year. I am also toying with the idea of making some kind of old-fashioned herb-garden with little hedges of box, or of lavender or of chives.
  4. I am already browsing the Thomas Etty Esq catalogue to decide what vegetables to put in in the spring - I think that getting a veg plot up and running at the new house is going to be our priority garden-wise over the winter. I want to have a go with more old fashioned varieties this year, and I like buying from a small supplier. Also, I like the quirky language on the website :).
  5. This year I have met some lovely people when freecycling excess seedlings - I think that generally, people who garden are pretty grounded. Certainly if I'm depressed or upset, spending some time pottering in the garden or the greenhouse calms me down and balances me out.
  6. I am also busy browsing Adam's Apples and researching which fruit trees will grow 1000ft about sea-level. I want a quince. And a damson. And a bullace. And an apple. And a pear. I'm not sure which varieties to get, yet - I need to do more reading.
  7. Gardening to me is a long-term thing. I despise garden-make-over programmes that come in and 'transform your garden' in a weekend. A garden should be collection of memories - plants that remind you of the people who gave them to you, or a holiday where you bought them (or in Ma's case, nicked a cutting from a stately home). A garden should be full of small delights and small surprises; corners where you find something you popped in to a spare space last year and have forgotten about; a scent that you catch as you open the window that makes you smile.
I should nominate seven people now, to take up the baton and run with it. Instead though, nominate yourselves - leave a link under this post so that we can come and visit you.

11 comments:

  1. I would love an allotment, but apparently there's hundreds of people on the waiting list, so I think it'll be a while. Although my boyfriend did suggest a cunning scheme to free up a few for me - sadly, though, I don't think the Judge would understand my motivation when I turned up in court! Although I'm sure if I tempted him with a few home-grown tomatoes...

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  2. I would love an allotment, but apparently there's hundreds of people on the waiting list, so I think it'll be a while. Although my boyfriend did suggest a cunning scheme to free up a few for me - sadly, though, I don't think the Judge would understand my motivation when I turned up in court! Although I'm sure if I tempted him with a few home-grown tomatoes...

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  3. Ooh yes please, I'd love to nominate myself - largely because I identified with quite a lot of the things you said.

    And a new seed supplier to browse. You have made an old girl very happy, Ally

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  4. Ooh yes please, I'd love to nominate myself - largely because I identified with quite a lot of the things you said.

    And a new seed supplier to browse. You have made an old girl very happy, Ally

    ReplyDelete
  5. Depressingly, gardening is just one more job that I don't have time to do properly. Mow and trim and try and ignore weeds.

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  6. Depressingly, gardening is just one more job that I don't have time to do properly. Mow and trim and try and ignore weeds.

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  7. I agree about the garden makeover shows and said that once to someone I was watching the Aussie version with. They had planted the garden out with mature plants and I couldn't help thinking that most of the pleasure of gardening and having a garden comes from planting something yourself and watching it grow, flower and grow some more.

    Sigh.... now I miss my old Aussie garden....

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  8. I agree about the garden makeover shows and said that once to someone I was watching the Aussie version with. They had planted the garden out with mature plants and I couldn't help thinking that most of the pleasure of gardening and having a garden comes from planting something yourself and watching it grow, flower and grow some more.

    Sigh.... now I miss my old Aussie garden....

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  9. WE foolishly tried to use up last years veg seeds this year, and have had a real failure to get things germinated. And our tomoatoes! They were doing fine before we went on holiday, but got hit by blight and were stone dead when we got home!

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