In my quest to find meaningful employment I’m currently to be found working at my local garden centre as a horticulturalist – that’s posh speak for being in charge of the hosepipe! It made sense really, I spend most of my leisure time (and money) at this place so why not get them to pay me some money back in return for looking after the flowers.
Part of the attraction is my main responsibility is not the customers but I do get to chat to them about gardening and it’s been interesting to watch and listen to them as they wander round.
There’s a lot of love in tending to something you have hopes will flourish and bring you joy be it flowers, food for your table, a shady tree to sit under in your garden. An abundance of memory making – some of the loveliest sights are when young people bring their grandma or grandpa to the centre. The grandpas usually want to buy tomato plants or veg seedlings, reminders of when they were younger and grew food to feed their families – or when they would escape for a few hours to the allotment to talk to their old mates and have some peace and quiet. Grandmas want pretty little blooms that they always grew in their gardens and reminisce about when their husbands were alive, she looked after the flowers and fought for more space to plant them where he would tend to his lawn and refuse to give up another inch of grass to those darned things!
More families with young children are appearing. They are getting the kids all excited with the thought of growing and picking strawberries and peas from pods – taking me back to when I was a kid sitting on a stool in my granny’s backyard popping peas out of their little green sleeping bags .. and eating more than ever ended up in the bowl. My grandpa would take me to his allotment where he grew his sweet peas, we would dig up new potatoes and carrots and carry them back for dinner.
Then there are the couples who look like they want to be somewhere else. The woman gibbering on about something while her other half pays more attention to his mobile phone. They bicker and argue about everything – what to buy, how much to spend. The usual question they ask me is what can I recommend to cover that neglected rough patch that will flourish all year and come back time after time – oh and requires no looking after. I wonder, are we talking gardening or couples counselling? I have the feeling whatever they buy will die within 2 weeks ..
I thought this could be the place I might find a little love myself. Eyes meet over the bedding plants, I wilt in to his strong suntanned arms to be carried off to the Garden of Eden for some long awaited passion amongst the petunias. I keep ‘bumping in to’ these hunky landscape gardeners hoping they are looking for more than a bag of compost but to no avail. I’m a magnet for the over 70’s with hearing aids and dodgy hips – not who I had in mind to samba down the beach in Rio.