There is torture and then there is…gardening. I know, I know, what I’m going to say will be anathema to so many of you. Saying you don't like gardening is like saying you don't like babies or kittens or cupcakes (ummm, on second thoughts, let's not go there - I want to keep a few readers). But honesty compels me to admit the unadmittable. I bloody HATE gardening. I am sitting here, right now, at my desk, with sweat pouring down my forehead, dripping steadily onto the keyboard. I have just plucked fifteen – count ‘em – thorns the size of arrows out of my arms, neck, nose and there are a few more that will require surgical removal with tweezers (when I can find the tweezers).
See, in my garden, nature hasn’t just flexed its muscles, it’s gone steroid-induced body builder on me. The brambles are the size of not so small children’s arms; the bindweed grows taller than the house; the ground elder (introduced by the Romans – so, yeah, what have the Romans done for us, huh???) marches inexorably over everything. It’s my own fault of course. After three years of spending every god-given spare hour out there, weeding and digging and cutting back, I gave up. Two years ago I said, ‘Sod it! Have it your own way.’ And the weeds went, yeah, thanks, we will. And I justify it by thinking, hey, it’s a wildlife haven. And it is…there are slow worms and even a beautiful grass snake. There are butterflies and bugs and gawd knows what.
But every so often I just look at it and feel like I should make some kind of effort. Usually when I can no longer see the hill beyond because the undergrowth has come up from underneath and got on top. So I gird my loins and I gear up. Forgot those nice images you see in the Sunday supps. I don’t wear vintage florals and a big floppy straw hat; I don’t wander round with my hand-made trug and fiddle artfully with tasteful twine. I go in looking like something from Call of Duty (probably Black Ops) with loppers, cutters, chainsaw, hacksaw, axe. Super-strength gauntlets (which are crap, by the way – there ARE no seriously effective wearable gloves on the market, not any more - sorry but there just aren't). And then, ka-bam - I launch in with a surprise attack, in a brutal flurry of cutting and slashing. And keep going for as long as I can until I collapse with exhaustion or get a mean sonofabitch bramble in the eye.
Hmm, it’s not really gardening, is it? It’s war. I’m not so much a Demeter as a Kali (to mix my mythologies). For years I told myself I liked gardening. I was lying. I realized that I like gardens. I like looking at gardens; I like sitting in them; I love lying on a nicely mowed lawn in them. I quite enjoy pottering around and dead-heading the roses. I don’t even mind flexing the secateurs and doing a bit of trimming (see, it’s that destructive thing again). But the actual gardening bit, all the rest of it – the digging and planting and tending and nurturing? Nah. That’s where I want someone else to take over. It’s all just so…time-consuming. And so thankless. It’s like cooking and cleaning (two of my other domestic no-nos) – you do it and yet no matter how well you do it, you have to do it all over again. It’s not progressive; you don’t get anywhere. It’s just…tiring. And boring. There, I’ve said it.
I know it sounds ungrateful. I know a lot of people would love, nay adore, to have a great big garden like this one. And that got me to thinking. Maybe we should have some kind of garden adoption scheme. People who love gardening but don’t have gardens could tend and nurture the gardens of those who have but who don’t like the gardening act (and who don’t have the dosh to pay people to do the dirty work for them). Brilliant, huh? So. What you reckon? Anyone game?
And, while we're here - anyone else wanna fess up to other things they hate that they're supposed to love? :-)