Friday, 15 August 2008


Carol over on May Dreams did a post last week called "Pruners I Dated before I Found the One I Love". Before I started reading it, I was convinced from the tempting title that it was going to be a story of love about her ex-boyfriends and how they were really bad at gardening and over-pruning everything until her wonderful husband came along who does everything horticultural absolutely perfectly.

This self-evidently says much more about me than it does about her.*

Anyway it got me started thinking about gardening attributes I'd be looking for in the perfect partner. I interviewed Jane McMorland Hunter earlier this year, and she does tag-team gardening with a disabled neighbour: her friend carefully nurses millions of annual seedlings through the top-of-the-radiator stage, when Jane takes over and does the back-breaking work of planting them all out, in both of their gardens. 

It made me think I wouldn't mind having a propagatively-minded lover who would scan all the seed catalogues in winter while I watched Corrie, who would then slip me hardened-off stuff from his cold frame in spring all ready to plant out. And I think I could grow to like having someone around who was a bit more brutal than me, prepared to take responsibility for massacring some of the inappropriately-sited innocents that populate my garden.

On the other hand, I don't think I could prune alongside someone who was loads tidier than me. I am a pretty messy gardener in general but I don't want someone to do my weeding for me. Or be judgemental about the level of tidiness. I don't want pitying looks or pained advice. 

But I do like the idea of gardening together.  Yet talking to a Chelsea gold garden-designing couple at a dinner earlier this summer, they confessed that the only way they kept the gardening peace in their home was for one to "own" the front garden, the other to control the back. I couldn't stand that - it seems so sad; though I have to say it seemed to work perfectly well for them. There does often seem to be a sort of division of labour with couples gardening together: many say that their husband does lawn and trees, while they do the flowers, though Noel Kingsbury's wife begged to differ at a recent VISTA chat on the subject. 

But then if you are married to Noel K perhaps you can happily leave the whole thing to him and busy yourself in the kitchen making delicious cake instead. What is the secret? Let me in on your wise secrets for domestic horticultural bliss. 

*Actually the piece was essentially Carol's declaration of lifetime devotion and fidelity to her Felcos.


Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

While it would be wonderful to have a spouse who is as interested in the inside of the Plant Delights catalogue as he is in the cover, I have to admit that I'm married to someone who really loves the outdoors & trees, but doesn't really care for gardening. It works out ok, as he's happy to visit gardens with me as he enjoys being outside & seeing critters in the garden. He offers to help with the more physically difficult tasks & he enjoys sitting out in the garden. But he used to complain that he was a "gardening widower," as I'd go out into the garden on a Saturday morning & forget about the rest of the family. Ooops, my bad.

emmat said...

I love the cover of Plant Delights. That guy is so eccentric. Did you see that interview with him in Garden and Gun? I put a link to it somewhere...

This morning I would be happiest with a lover who had the power to control the weather, (say, Zeus); I'm totally sick of it raining.