Rain is sloshing down outside, and it’s blowing a moderate gale. This is April, when all things green begin to grow. To this end, I planted some seeds. Later than normal, but it has been too cold to consider any prospect of planting out. For me, seed catalogues are temptation. I want the lot. I am a child in a sweet shop when it comes to the multitudes of varieties of bean and tomato, the extraordinary range of basils and mints and lavenders. But if truth is told, I am a lazy gardener, more interested in the tea and biscuits under the apple tree than the mess and the muck, the sheer hard work of it all. My ideal (never achieved) is to sit amongst the flowers on a warm afternoon, a (home grown) borage flower in a glass of Pimms, a crystallised (home grown) violet garnishing a dainty (home made) cake or two.
I am a catalogue gardener, taken in by the seductive and suggestive words of horticultural copy writing, and the beautiful (probably Photoshopped) pictures that show the results of someone else’s hard work. A hint that the plant will be ‘unusual’, ‘rare’, or remarkable in any way will provoke in me a child-like acquisitiveness for seeds akin to that of Verruca Salt for squirrels in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
Careless of the responsibilities of a proper gardener, I order far more than I have the energy and resources to propagate. I (or preferably someone else) shall have to dig up the lawn to accommodate the scarlet flowered beans, the purple podded peas, the golden tomatoes and the extraordinary scallop-edge squashes that I imagine providing my family with wholesome victuals whilst I stand by like a horticultural Nigella Lawson, dressed in an expensive low-cut cashmere sweater and moleskin trousers with nary a bead of sweat upon my finely made-up brow, my teeth sunk seductively into a lush, ripe tomato. Experience shows that gardening doesn’t work like that, and that I would get tomato juice on my jumper.
Perhaps my reward will be to receive a packet of seeds that will transform into something truly remarkable – a magical beanstalk, a Sleeping Beauty thorny hedge that will encase the house, a cabbage patch baby, a giant peach, or a Triffid more fearsome than anything John Wyndham ever imagined.
Below a small poem that has been hiding in my files for a few years. I have given it a trim.
Just when the seed got into his ear he didn’t know.
It sprouted until a fresh, green tip grew out the side of his head
for everyone else to see.
He ignored the discomfort as it became a small tree,
and didn’t hear the rustling as the leaves
covered his eyes, making it hard for him to see.
But he dismissed the impairment,
considering it his own fault.
And when the roots plunged into his throat
he could not protest as they lashed his tongue,
bound his heart.