My sister and I live around 80 miles apart - but on a day like this I can guarantee you will find us both, out in our respective gardens, talking to our tender seedlings.
Maggie and I are definitely two sprigs off the same branch (I hope you are appreciating the way I am carrying through with the horticultural analogy - it must be the influence of the Chelsea Flower Show.)
Maggie's case, it is her newly planted marigolds receiving her words of encouragement and advice on growing big and strong; in my, rather more prosaic case, it is the lettuces and beetroot. But I am prepared to wager that the words we are using will be much
My beetroot have, indeed, had a head start on Maggie's marigolds so it is not surprising that they are bigger. However there is no question that marigolds are more attractive than beetroot. There's
nothing particularly beaut about beet.
Our friend Avril gave us the beetroot plants when they were just tiny seedlings. I have tended them lovingly, so much so that when Avril came to inspect them last week
(she likes to keep an eye on her vegetable off-spring) she was a little put out to discover that ours were thriving rather more than those they'd left behind them. I can only presume that Avril has not been talking to her beetroot. As regular readers may recall,
I am not that fond of beetroot but Mr B loves it and is already looking forward to feasting on a Little Gem lettuce and beetroot salad. His keen expectation has not, as yet, prompted him to add his voice to mine in regular conversation with the growing plants
but of and when they make it into the Great Salad Bowl of Life, he will doubtless claim some of the credit. He believes, for reasons best known to himself that watering is more important to Vegetable Wellbeing than chattering.
Recently the neighbours living at the bottom of our garden (no, they're definitely not fairies, they looked very substantial when they came round to discuss the work to be done. And not a wing in sight) had a new fence erected which has tidied things
up on our side no end. With a little bit of work, I reckoned this afternoon, I could clear the back border ready to be planted with beautiful shrubs and hardy perennials. Off I went with the zeal of a true gardener, or at least with a good pretence at being
one. Half an hour later it was clear that I had seriously underestimated the work involved. In short, I found myself hacking through a veritable jungle. All it needed was a monkey or two swinging from the tree above my head and the picture would have been
After a while I fancied myself in The Twinkles' Jungle Gym. I started to hum loudly, to the consternation of a small blue butterfly who clearly had considered I was an extension of the buddleia and
wasn't expecting a rendition of Spread a Little Happiness, there in the overgrown border. I gathered lots of dead twigs and branches and made them into a small wood pile. I picked up bits of cement post, the odd household brick - how long must it have been,
I asked myself, since anyone had tackled the Jungle at the Bottom of Our Garden. The somewhat shameful answer was at least 29 years, that being how long we have lived here.
I was starting to flag in my endeavours
when suddenly, hidden behind a particularly thick bush, I spotted a patch of bright blue. There in the border, brave survivors of my garden jungle, a small bunch of quite beautiful bluebells. A surprise made all the more wonderful by its unexpectedness and
the probably quite unwarranted feeling of being rewarded for one's efforts.
"So there you are then!" I whispered, "Fancy seeing you here!" The bluebells danced in excitement at hearing my voice.
It may just have been the wind of course - but I reckon I know better. And my sister Maggie would definitely say the same.