Gardening · In English

Fake gardener

I am not a true gardener : I don’t grow edibles, or so few they don’t count. The size of my garden is to blame, but so is my privileged existence in a rich country where it is more convenient and often cheaper to buy food at the supermarket (oh wait… ). I therefore get to indulge in the luxury of growing things mainly for their appearance – the evil of pure aesthetics. I’d like to protest that it isn’t true, that my supposedly useless flowers, leaves and shrubs can never be reduced to the visual pleasure they give rise to : in fact, in the garden, everything is tactile, from colours to structures, including scents ; I can feel visual rhythms as waves in my chest, and it seems to me one can be fed through the skin.

Photo 05-04-2020 16 29 51

I also find an aubergine plant or a bunch of raspberry canes a lot less conducive to fruitful conversation than, let’s say, delphiniums and honesty and even humble weeds (in fact, very young plants and weeds are my preferred talking companions, the first needing much encouragement and the latter, for whose strength I have great respect and to whom I am rarely rude, long sophistic subtleties as to why they shouldn’t be here nor there).

Apart from fruit trees and herbs, edibles just don’t excite me in the same way, I struggle to hear their voice. I guess my senses might soon become a lot acuter when the food industry starts to fail. The situation being thus, I am starting to wonder how much it would take for me to pull up my plants for beans and potatoes. What do you say ? I need an allotment ? Don’t we all ? Besides the long waiting lists, I can foresee that without a car, I wouldn’t keep up. Or would forget to come home. And here I am again, finding excuses.

Meanwhile, the utter joy of these Winston Churchill daffodils. I need only to see them to be flooded by their heady voluptuous scent.

12 thoughts on “Fake gardener

  1. Avec le retour du printemps j’attendais des nouvelles de ton charmant petit jardin. Je comprends que tu l’aimes et que tu lui apportes autant d’attention. Tes daffodils (j’adore le mot) sont superbes 🙂

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  2. I agree vegetables don’t speak to your soul like flowers do. It’s difficult to get excited by a Brussels sprout. But in these difficult times it’s good to know you can grow something to eat. Even if you haven’t got much space you can alway grow veg in containers, pots and boxes. I like your Winston Churchills.

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    1. Yes, and I grow a few things in pots, raspberry, gooseberry, black currant, tomatoes and three fruit trees ( still very young) but there no chance to seriously contribute to feed a family in this way. My house is quite dark and the windowsills narrow. An allotment would be the way. 🙂

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  3. You know, I am a career horticulturist and arborist, but you would not guess so by looking at my garden. I grow what I want to, which is mostly fruit trees and vegetables, with only a few flowers that I have grown since I was a kid. I add almost nothing new. There is plenty of open space. Most of it is in straight lines and a grid pattern. It is much more utilitarian than aesthetically appealing. I work with plenty of idiots who flunked out of some other career to become ‘gardeners’ or ‘landscapers’ because they thought it would be fun and easy, but they do not take it seriously enough. I find that those who simply enjoy their garden the way they want to take it more seriously than the vast majority of so called professionals. If you are enjoying it, even without vegetables or fruits, you are doing it properly.

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    1. Thank you Tony ! You are right, this is the way I want my garden to be. It is just that at the moment, one becomes more conscious of the importance to learn how to grow food. I feel strangely guilty not to put my small plot to « good use ». But if one wants to grow veg to properly feed a family, as opposed to « have a bit of fun picking up a few tomatoes », then I don’t believe the many blogs who at the moment tell you a few pots will suffice. Of course they won’t.

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      1. A few pots grows a few fun items to add to what is purchased at the store. It is fun to grow herbs to add to a salad, even if the rest of the salad came from the store. For some people, that is enough. Realistically, about 200 square feet is needed to grow enough produce for one person. After realizing how much space here where I built a new garden can not be used, I am left with barely more than 200 square feet, but a crew of about a dozen works here, and they all have families. Each of us will get a bit of something, but no one will get much. I don’t care. They are already enjoying it, and we haven’t gotten anything yet.

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  4. Dear Frog, this is a beautiful essay. I love the idea of talking to young plants and discussing philosophy of being “in the right place” with weeds (after all, a weed is only a weed because we wanted something else in that space and because we said so). What makes a piece of land a garden is… a Gardener. (I must have heard this from Monty). Please don’t dig out the plants you have been talking to, certainly not for beans! Do grow some tomatoes, in pots. Because the supermarket ones are just plasticky (and because I am obsessed, as you know). And you don’t need an allotment if you have enough sun in your garden (I don’t). It is indeed, very, very difficult to come home 🙂

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    1. Thank you Katya ! 😊Yes I will try to grow tomatoes again ! Alas my garden is North facing but as it is a sort of narrow and long rectangle (quite a challenge, this shape), there is sun at the bottom near the shed. That’s where I have grouped my few edibles in pots – three berries, three fruit trees. There is a sunny bed which would be more suitable but hey, that’s for the mini prairie style garden. 🙂

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  5. Oh, and I love the edging of your beds – very delicate grass, what is that? Winston Churchill is a delight. I have something similar but I don’t know the variety, I planted it last autumn during the time I could not have cared less about its name (as you know), I wish I could post a picture here, a greeting of daffodils, from my garden to yours.

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    1. Oh yes I wish I could see you daffodils ! The grass is stipa tenuissima. I absolutely love it. In winter it stays beautiful and comforting. The bed is partly new from last year rearrangement, so many plants are still young and establishing.

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  6. Cela me fait si doucement plaisir de voir des photos de ton jardin, même si j’ai les yeux bien trop abîmés par les interminables journées devant l’écran pour déchiffrer l’anglais… mais ici débutent les vacances. Je reviendrai donc avec des yeux plus frais!

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