GARDENING: It’s all become complicated

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Like most people, I don’t really enjoy gardening, but you have to make an effort because everyone else does.

I like my bit of garden best when it snows because that is the only time it looks as good as the others.

Luckily, I can now almost get away with saying I prefer a wild garden because it’s good for the insects and wildlife.

Back in the day, it was easy. You had a lawn with a border filled with bedding plants, and a weed was something that wasn’t a blue lobelia or white alyssum, which is what everyone planted.

Now, as with everything else, life is more complicated.

It begins with being seduced by the photograph on a packet or label of a fabulous hybrid doodah, which has taken years of selective breeding and cross-pollination. It costs a fortune, but it will look good and no one else will have one. You will be the envy of all your neighbours.

You cannot just plant such a magnificent specimen. No, first you check the pH is right. Then you add peat from a secret bog, which remained unknown to man for centuries, but is now harvested within an inch of its life. You carefully harden off the plant and then, and only then, you can plant it out.

You take real care to ensure it is planted at the correct depth, with just the right amount of light and shade, and that not a single root is damaged or bruised.

You then feed and water it, and give it all the care and attention imaginable.

Despite all that, you eventually end up with something quite disappointing, and which bears no resemblance to the photo on that label.

A weed, on the other hand, is completely different.

When one appears it is usually in a crack with no soil whatsoever.

You poison it, then wait until it has died back, pull it up completely and then burn what is left. Yes, you have totally destroyed it – except for a 2mm piece of root, which somehow managed to survive.

It seizes its chance, and within 10 days that minute piece of root has grown into a plant 1m high, covered the rest of the garden in seeds, produced roots strong enough to crack paving stones, and allowed every greenfly and flower-munching aphid to lay eggs on its leaves.

How does it do it? Is it worth it? Why do I bother?

Actually, white alyssum and blue lobelia would look really good, kind of retro. I wonder if anywhere stocks them?

Mel Shaw,

Archbold Cottages,