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Talkback: The gardening bug

I'm sorry - I just couldn't resist this:
"Anne Wareham hates gardening. She hates planting bulbs (‘I wasn’t made with a hinge in my back’). She hates cutting things down, cutting them back and pulling them out. She hates weeding. She hates the boring repetition of sowing seeds, mowing, cutting hedges, potting up and propagating.

‘Gardening is boring,’ she says. ‘If there are enjoyable jobs, they’re mostly enjoyable for the result, not the process. There is no actual intellectual content to the task itself, even if there may be in the planning and designing."

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  • Living in a room in a tenement building meant no access to growing things till I went to school and the infant teacher had us all growing cress in a saucer on the windowsill. Persistence in my desire to grow things resulted in my twelve year old uncle agreeing to me sowing marigolds and nasturtiums in my widowed grandmother's tiny garden "as long as she keeps them in a straight line" as that what he did with his vegetables. But when I was eleven and war broke out my father acquired a railway allotment and we dug for victory. Flowers were not allowed and even strawberries were frowned upon but I learned the craft from my father and the more you know of any subject the more you love it. We were able to rent a council flat when I was 15 and the back garden, though small was part of the walled garden of the demolished mansion house the estate was built on, and the gooseberry bushes were still there. That soil was very fertile and I knew the thrill of really well grown vegetables.
    By then, I was known as a competent gardener and could earn picture money by helping the gardener in the "big" house where my mother was housekeeper and learn all the time from him.
    Five years in university and another five in digs while working meant an enforced removal from the soil but, when my husband and i were house-hunting the garden was more important to me than the house and fifty seven years later it still is.
    It seems to me, Kate, that we all have an instinct for gardening stemming from the Hunter-gatherers we all came from and ,even if we are born without access to one, we find a way. You are so right - there should be school gardens, allotments, garden sharing,etc so that everyone has access to green space and escape from the concrete jungle.
  • I love gardening! I'm 22 and have had an allotment for nearly 2 years, my friends all think I'm weird but nevermind. My windowseat in my bedroom is a mini flower border, and the garden at my student house shall soon be filled with pretties :)
  • I have just read comment no.i and would like to suggest "grumpy" people are not nice to be with, so Anne could try learning the Latin names of all the plants in her garden, studying their biology and evolutionary history, painting a few of them, comparing her crops from year to year, trying to find more uses for the plants we do know how to grow,eg for medicine or fuel. She must surely know that some of the most intelligent people in the world are and were gardeners and enjoyed the chance to do "boring", "repetitive" tasks so that their intellect could work unhindered on the great problems of their age. Winston Churchill comes to mind.
  • Sometimes I guess it's in the genes...
    My mum always took us down to the cottage (in Hungary), which we had since I was two. She put it full of fruit trees, grown veggies, and I also had a tiny bit of land - the size of a handkerchief- under one of the sour cherries, till it shaded over and I have grown out of it.
    I loved the fresh peas I used to grow, and the strawberries, but there can never be better times, then picking fresh, incredibly sweet cherries from the tree from the sun-lounger, while holding a book with the other...

    Thought I'd never do much with plants, wanted to be a vet, and growing up in the city othewise, I never hoped to afford a place with a garden - maybe later in life.
    Life turned out to be different than dreams, and a bit reluctantly I had achieved (and worked hard for) a degree in Horticulture.
    But as I grew up, and got older, and coming to England, changed my view. I started to enjoy growing, refreshing my knowledge, and just finding joy and peace in all - even the hard work bit! Never understood why my mother couldn't sit for 5 minutes in the garden before jumping up and doing more work - now I know!

    Oh, and I ended up working in a plant nursery! Making whole plants out of bits and pieces is a bit like being God - sorry My Lord, but it's creation itself - a bit like having a baby, just with less pain at the end! :) Or let's call it Magic..

    I feel ever so lucky to have a garden, especially as now it is brimming with fruits, veggies and there are flowers too.
    Each night when my husband comes home we go out with our 2-year-old, pick the raspberries, strawberries, alpine strawberries, then the peas. He will gobble them up, so we hardly actually get to taste them!
    I also had several salads (I don't even like lettuce, but somehow... mix, sauce, etc. and it's nice!), used the spinach, etc in sauces, soups, and other things, and my husband takes a salaf leaf or two in his sandwiches.

    It's such a lovely feeling to go around my garden, gather a bit of this, a bit of that..
    And my toddler really loves it!He has learnt the words for these fruits (in one language or the other, whichever is easier), he helps to water everything(watered our shoes when I wasn't looking for a minute :) ), played with compost instead of sand, and always asks to go out into it, this was the first baby sign he learnt, when about 10-11 month old.

    My mum since told me her father was also a gardener - I didn't know that before, or wasn't interested. Now I feel it's a family thing.
    I can only hope I will give my son (and any other children) the "gardening bug", like my mother gave it to me, like she got it from her grandfather!
  • There's more to gardens than gardening.

    Or all that homework, thanks happymarion! (if you read the piece you'll see interviewer thought I was quite nice to be with..)

  • Before I could walk I used to crawl into the garden to admire the roses :o) but my mother was not too enthusiastic! Throughout my youth the first place I ever wanted to be wherever I was, was in the garden and I was always dead-heading roses! However, I was never allowed to help or have my own small plot so I never really learnt very much. I lived abroad for several years then moved into an apartment in London where I had my outside and inside plants. When we moved to France my first plants were two rescued plants from the dustbin down the road and are now still happily giving me lovely rose blossoms 7 years later. I've no clue about the latin names of plants and I'm not much good at identifying them but my seedling have always done well and so I keep going reading books and learning as I go. My only wish is that I'll one day get my wish and have a garden of my own to design and plant. I love it!
  • I think its hereditary. My mum loves gardening so I was brought up with her in the garden and she gave me my own bit to plant up when I was little. Her parents loved gardening aswell and when we all met up the subject always turned to the garden. My first garden when I left home was small. It was concreted over but I had that ripped up and soil put down and designed my first garden. After a few years we bought a plot of land to build a house so I was lucky enough to design a second garden from scratch!! We have been here 8 years now and the trees are growing well and the birds are coming to the garden now. We have chickens and like my mum I am often found pottering away in the garden!! Love it!!
  • I only became interested in gardening last year and I am 34! I always hated it and was totally uninterested when my parents were gardening. I just decided to grow my own cherry tomatoes last year and when they were a success I really became hooked. For me its growing vegetables and I have put my name down for an allotment plot that our community are trying to start up. I also love wildlife and having a garden in an estate thrown down my developers I have quite a job now to transform it. I am presently buying plants to encourage bees and butterflies. I have become suddenly obsessed but really excited at what I may produce. It's a huge transformation and if you told me 4 years ago what I would be like today I would laugh at you. Where it has come from I dont know but it doesn't matter because I love it now.
  • Ilove it,the ever ending challenge to grow plants,knowing one is giving nature a helping hand,letting them turn into a picture of complete satisfaction to the beholder.Able to admire and stare at the sheer growth each plantand seed gives without being bored of looking.Something that will evolve,wether hand tended or left to a will of it's own.The planning which often does not go to plan at all, making it feel all the more exciting.Being, excitied,as new seasons come round,and above all i suppose, the joy of being in control and of ones own plot, giving in return complete satisfaction.Able to tend and fuss at ones own will.Love it.
  • I have slowly developed into gardening. My father has a garden that grows but one single plant "achamelia mollis" the ladys mantle. He loves it and his whole graden is covered in the stuff. Consequently a loathe the plant. I think somewhere subconciously i must have thought "i don't like this monoculture way of gardening and when i get a place of my own i will grow lots of other plants". I still don't have a place of my own but over the years i have developed my gardening skills working with and for others in their gardens. A cousin of mine in scotland gave me free reign on a field and i turned it into a garden. I have my own allotment now and grow veg everywhere, i squeeze in the flowers where i can but veg is king in my plot. I love the process of seed to earth to plate, flowers don't have the same pull except the sweet pea. Love sweet peas.

    Gardening is something that grows within you much like the plants we tend it starts tiny and fragile as a seed and gorws and matures over time into the seasoned oak. Its what makes life make sense.
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