I keep reminding acquaintances who apologise for having no interest at all in growing plants that it does not make them a bad person. But why is this fellow so keen?
At the beginning of each new year it’s arguably time for us all to take a metaphorical rain-check on several fronts, and as far as gardening’s concerned, I certainly feel the richer for having been immersed in discovering the mysteries and benefits of plants and animals since an early age.
There are vivid memories of picking loganberries (a blackberry x raspberry) as a child in short trousers on a maternal grandfather’s allotment, and the thrill of collecting eggs laid by his Rhode Island Reds.
Teenage life found me helping feed pigs and poultry, cultivating fruit and vegetables, and keeping watch for homing pigeons returning from races ‘across the water’.
All of this exciting stuff was on a favourite uncle’s smallholding, and no doubt responsible for the nudge towards gardening, the unwitting absorption of basic skills, and an insatiable appetite to discover more about the natural world.
Those who have little interest in plants might well ask, ‘why?’
For me it’s the almost childlike thrill when seeds germinate, embryo fruits form or first early potatoes emerge from the earth.
This is something that never dims. Being totally self-sufficient in growing for the kitchen would be a remarkable achievement, but how satisfying it is to simply enjoy raising summer fruits for instant use or storage, and year-round vegetables and herbs that make an occasional fresh contribution to meals.
Ornamental plants are part of the enjoyment too. Apart from trying to create an attractive garden, whenever flowers are picked for a vase there is a sense of achievement.
If they came from an herbaceous border, the time spent on maintenance alone is rewarding.
Anyone who propagates plants surely shares a similar experience.
I share the Weekending Show with friend Carl Stiansen on Lionheart Radio every Saturday, from 1pm to 3pm. It’s broadcast on 107.3 FM or live online at www.lionheartradio.com and answering questions via email, text or telephone is part of it.
Last week someone asked, ‘How do I discover more about gardening as a beginner?’ After covering the various options; online sites, the Royal Horticultural Society, evening class and college short courses, visiting gardens open to the public, etc. local gardening clubs and groups sprang to mind. There’s bound to be one in your area.
The Alnwick club I’ve been attached to all my adult life is quite informal, with four experienced speakers/demonstrators who cover topical gardening.
Everyone’s friendly and we meet on the last Tuesday in the month. Come and see for yourself next Tuesday (26th), at 7.30pm, in the Town Hall.