I may be a lowly apprentice of the skilled trade of horticulture, but one day I aspire to be a master
love my allotment. It’s not an official allotment, it is someone else’s back garden that my partner and I use to grow plants. It made sense for the owners to let us take care of it; they no longer have to pay someone to come and strim it twice yearly.
We don’t grow much by way of vegetables there; a plant or two of Daubenton kale, some garlic and some salad. Instead we use it to grow those things that would add extra pounds to our weekly shop, such as fruit and cut flowers. We get umpteen punnets of fruit each year from our four blueberry bushes, and the strawberries and raspberries rarely make it as far as the house. It’s also the overflow to our own garden and nursery, the place where the plants that I just couldn’t resist end up. It’s home to my rhododendrons, a range of woodland floor ephemerals, a collection of species hellebores and huge towering echiums.
More than all that, though, it’s the place where I practice an art. I don’t mean painting or music, I mean the art of being a gardener. In my work, I am a scientist studying all the things that make plants grow, and through giving them just what science tells me they need and very little more, they either grow or they don’t. In my home garden, I do the same. The plants get planted, I water them and feed them but, bar a little pruning occasionally, I don’t do much to them. At the allotment, however, I garden.