I don’t get out much. I tend to spend most of my time in my garden or writing about it and I can go days and sometimes, shockingly, weeks without going anywhere. Except for the odd foray to search for bread and milk and other essentials necessary to keep growing boys growing, and making sure there is always the raw materials available to ensure Hubby the Un-Gardener has what he needs to keep those cuppa tea’s flowing.
So today when I was blessed enough to be asked to speak to the lovely old folks at the Ranfuly Village in Auckland on the subject of winter gardening, I jumped at the chance to linger in the big city… for gardening purposes of course.
The talk was well received and they proudly showed me their garden, between the showers. I took them a gift of a bulb of elephant garlic that I had grown last season and they were very intrigued. I really do enjoy getting out there and talking to people about gardening. I think everyone should and so I am on a bit of a mission to inspire or rekindle the love of growing their own food in anyone who will listen and even the odd person who isn’t listening.
Once I had said my goodbyes I decided to go on a garden centre crawl. Bearing in mind I still had a mountain of work waiting for me at home I decided to limit it to four places, but I so easily could have done more. The choice in the city is so much greater than what is on offer in the country.
My first stop was one I visited a while ago, about maybe 8 or so years ago. However I was either in the wrong place or it had moved, because it was gone – without a trace. Garden centres shouldn’t do that, they are a vital part of the community. Well in my world they are. So it was 8 years since I last visited and maybe if I’d been a more regular customer it would still be there. But like I said – I don’t get out much.
I pulled the car over where I thought it should be and searched in vain on my smartphone. But it was like it was never there. I can’t have imagined it – that’s where I bought the gardenia that I promptly killed. Which may be the cause for my ambivalent efforts at floral gardening. A deep unresolved trauma linked to the slow demise of a beautiful plant.
Not to be deterred from my garden centre crawl I searched for garden centres in the area and set the directions into my map app and found myself at this most amazing centre. Just walking in the door blew me away with the range and variety. I trawled up and down the covered section in awe of all the exciting things on offer. If the rain hadn’t increased in intensity from the heavy we’ve grown used to lately to a burst of torrential, then I would have dawdled through the tree section and lingered over the potted plants. But it was just too wet and I didn’t fancy the long drive home soaked through to the skin. So I have made a mental note to get out more and go back.
The following centres offered more of the same. Glorious garden goodness at every turn. And yet I found myself paralysed by restraint. I surprised myself. It was like being in a candy store with a tummy ache. Of all the times to listen to myself… I have learnt that unless I am looking for something specific or have a space prepared, then the poor unfortunate plant selected and paid for is doomed to a grim end. Pot bound, unfed with a guilt inducing wilt. This was the time I should have listened to myself and just planted them. But instead I turned a blind eye and eventually it was the lack of consistent water that turned their once luscious leaves in to a crispy brown mess with a faded label, declaring what was once there, like some kind of epitaph.
So I just contented myself with looking and breathing in that lovely smell garden centres have – the aroma of happy, healthy plants growing. And I made my way home glad in the knowledge I had just saved many lives. Lives who will hopefully end up in the care of those who will give them what they need.
Come again soon – I can’t ignore the chaos in the greenhouse any longer.
Sarah the Gardener : o )