Still too often, a passion for gardening is met by giggles and blank stares. Why is it that gardening still seems to be viewed as something to do when one is retired? Revealing my age is certainly not on the cards, but I am certainly nowhere in that category. Why does one garden?
Passion for growing when young perhaps. In my case, that could not be further from the truth. I was fortunate to have spent the majority of my formative years in East Africa, in Kenya. The sheer scale and range of the plants, the variety and awe of the landscapes, wildlife and weather conditions should inspire anyone to pick up a shovel or if so required, purchase one. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly appreciated my surroundings and the sheer beauty of the plants and flowers around us, but the idea of gardening never even entered my mind. Later at university, I was introduced to the concept of gardening, but merely as a rather tedious chore one required to do prior to parents visiting. One could always tell when my parents were heading our way. I can certainly share a great depth of knowledge as to the speed at which small gardens can overgrow and the sheer height to which normal lawn grass can actually grow – without any assistance what so ever.
So what led to the current passion? My mother and her passion for roses. She has a wonderful eye, and always gardened, creating the most beautiful and bold gardens, where ever we lived. One of her trade secrets was rose cuttings, in fact any cuttings. It was and still is fascinating to see, what is basically a stick stuck in some earth, develop into a plant. Her most audacious though was growing a Cape Gooseberry from seeds obtained from berry decoration on a sumptuous Wittamer gateau. For those mere mortals who don’t know their pastry, Wittamer, is one of the best patisseries in Brussels. Naturally we were all a tad miffed as we wanted to eat the berry.
Roses though, are her favourite, and her passion finally managed to spark an interest. I just started, enjoying seeing plants grow, creating spaces, combining plants, making horrendous mistakes but all the while learning about plants. To the chagrin of my brother, it also included watching endless gardening programmes on tv. Oh hail Alan and Monty…
Hardly surprising that I too have a passion for roses, in particular the mad, lethally prickly, tough but always majestic, ramblers. They grow with such speed to huge proportions, have thorns that could feature in Jaws, but yet produce the most stunning and delicate flower displays imaginable. Not surprisingly, several grace the Greenhouse border; Kiftsgate, Sir Cedric Morris, Rambling Rector, Long John Silver and Felicite Perpetue. The rosewalk is adorned with Veilchenblau, Bleu Magenta and Rose-Marie Viaud. It does not stop there though, the rest of the garden includes Cecile Brunner, Paul’s Himalayan Musk and many climbers, planted a long time ago, which we have yet to identify.
Gardening comes highly recommended and certainly needn’t require the presence of Zimmer Frames. Though I hope that even, when so required, I will still be brandishing my shovel. It is an absolute joy.
Oh, and mum,.. nurseries, seed suppliers, magazine publishers, manufacturers of tools, garden machinery, wheelbarrows, plant supports, wellies, etc.. salute you!