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4:59pm on Saturday, 27th June, 2009:

Gardening for the Non-Gardener


I don't like gardening. Sure, you get a nice garden out of it, but it sounds to me suspiciously like hard work. As a result of this lack of engagement with gardening, I don't know much about it at all. Nor do I want to know much about it; that would mean I'd have to take an in interest in it, and then I'd feel obliged to put the knowledge to some practical use.

This does not mean I don't want a nice-looking garden, though. It simply means I want a nice-looking garden without having to be any good at nor have any aptitude for gardening.

So, our garden could do with some more plants. If I buy plants and plant them, though, they will die. This is because plants are fussy, fragile things that will only grow in the right conditions. I don't know those conditions. Well, I do know them, because they come with instructions that say "prefers partial shade, well-drained slightly alkaline soil in a sheltered position facing south". I've said before, I don't want any of this stuff. I want "grows near where your lawn has clover in it" or "just put it next to your roses".

A few years ago, I bought some rhubarb seeds. I like rhubarb. I know it likes some weird combination of conditions that come together in a small area of Yorkshire, but I don't know which part of our garden corresponds to that small part of Yorkshire. Rather than try figure out the pH of our soil and whether proximity to some shrub consituted enough shade to be partial, I just planted the seeds in a variety of places — under trees, next to the shed, in among the flowers — and waited for the results.

The results were that they grew where we'd planted our strawberries. Then, they shrivelled up under the day-long direct sunlight and died. So, right soil, wrong kind of sun. This means I ought to be able to plant them nearby, maybe in a hedge or next to where the previous occupants of the house had placed a brick barbecue so badly constructed that it was years before we realised that it was, in fact, meant to be a barbecue. Unfortunately, my every attempt to grow rhubarb in these locations has resulted in the young plants' being lifted by my father-in-law and put next to the strawberries where they grow like crazy until they die of thirst. No attempts to persuade him not to do it have worked (he remembers that there's something about the rhubarb and the strawberries, but seems to think that it's that I want the rhubarb there, not that i don't want it there).

Hmm. I wonder if maybe watering the rhubarb might keep it alive longer? It's a crazy idea, but it might just work...

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Copyright © 2009 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).