Monday, July 27, 2009

Is Gardening the new Pilates?

At forty, I’ve discovered gardening. I know, late bloomer!

I really had no idea how energising and satisfying it could be. I thought it was all just Nanas wearing brightly coloured crocs, kneeling on washable pillows and talking about azaleas. I still don’t know what an azalea looks like but I'm trying.

On a visit to the garden centre the other day, I forgot the name for potting mix. The woman looked at me like I was deranged. "Pot-ting Miiiixxxx" she said, slowly. That was a bit embarrassing. Perhaps I have brain damage from the fight I got in to with a palm tree frond. Frond? More like Palm Tree Killer Weapon. It stabbed me in the forehead.

It’s dangerous isn’t it, gardening. Hard work too. My mother used to say that to me. Gardening is hard work. She used to say that about child birth and bringing up children too. Baby boomers, my lord, masters of the understatement aren’t they?

Gardening isn’t just dangerous and hard work, it’s a work out. Gardening is the new Pilates. You heard it here first. After my first few mornings weeding and planting, I developed sore muscles, a bung hip and the aforementioned puncture wound. It took me days to recover. But I was back in to it again as soon as the garden bin could be emptied.

And while I’m complaining, my garden bin is way too small. I barely have time to hack off a few sub-tropical killer weapon fronds before the thing is filled to the brim. I risk life and limb trying to squash them in there. Could it be that my plants are just too big? Should I be growing smaller plants? It’s a theory, I’ll have to give it more thought – ‘Should one plant smaller plants so that one’s bin is less likely to fill up before collection day?’

My current planting mission uses three centimetre high grass so I’m on track there. I bought grass. Yep, I have a whole lawn full of it but I went and bought Mono grass to fill up my garden as well. Turns out there’s all kinds of different types of grass. This one you can’t even mow. I asked. Seems kind of stupid but I’m confident it will give a nice aesthetic around the trendy birdbath/ mosaic feel I’ve got going there.

Besides, I totally saved those little grass buggers. They were so entwined in each other’s business in those tiny pots it took all my strength to pull them apart. I wrenched them out of their incestuous past lives and planted them in to tiny little solitary holes – kind of like rescuing them from the hell of communal living and offering them an apartment on the waterfront. Now they have a lovely view of the bird bath, avec l’eau and their roots have room to spread out and relax. Plant heaven.

Every day I look out my window and smile at those little tufts of greenery battling it out with the coastal soil, lack of sunlight and spasmodic watering. I give them a little imaginary high fives and wish them the best of British. (Hmmm, mixed cultural signalling, could be confusing for them).
I know I can’t just leave them out there to cope on their own but I’m at a loss as to what I am supposed to do next. Do plants need pampering? Pour worm pee on them? Fertiliser? Nitrates? There is so much conflicting advice from all quarters.

But it’s addictive isn’t it? Despite the confusing suggestions, mortal danger and let’s face it, the dirt, once you get results you just want to get out there and plant some other poor bastard in the soil. It’s so damn satisfying.

I can see myself in twenty years time, telling one of my poor unsuspecting daughters... “ Get out in the garden darling, it’s so satisfying.” To which she’ll reply... “Mum, you said that about Pilates.”

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