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COLUMN: Alison Powell on why she will never blossom into a natural gardener

I HAD some delicious broad beans recently. That in itself may not seem noteworthy, but they were grown and given to me by my friend Laura. She is becoming a green fingered goddess of all she surveys at her allotment. My friend Hannah has sent me her gardening spreadsheet, tracking her plants. My friend Amanda has created a slice of Tuscany in her garden, with trailing vines and aromatic herbs and Sue now has an area of stylish serenity as you step from her summer room to the great outdoors. I am surrounded by excellent gardeners with beautiful gardens.

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My parents are keen gardeners, my Dad is a veg growing Oracle and my Mum has tubs and rose bushes that bloom and blossom like Billio. Surrounded by these people and with genes such as mine, I should be a good gardener. I should at least have an idea of what I am doing. But alas, I do not.

Last year some rotting decking was yanked out and replaced with a lawn and raised borders. There it has all sat, for many months, waiting for something wonderful to be planted, whilst nature did her thing and grew weeds where shrubs should be. My Mum gave me some tulip bulbs. I popped them in the borders, they grew, but just as promptly as the buds burst, something ate the leaves and they looked bedraggled and beaten. I scattered some wildflower seeds in the front garden last year, they grew, but soon looked tatty, which, I know, is sort of part of the point, but by autumn, they looked a shambles and by winter they looked drab and quite possibly dead. They have been hacked away now. Possibly they would’ve re-flowered this year, but I don’t know as I know nothing.

Mum and I recently popped to the garden centre, she was there to show me what to buy to fill my many empty pots, whilst my Dad did an awesome job back at my house, pruning back wild, overgrown ‘stuff’, cutting grass and clearing rubbish. The garden centre trip was complicated by Joe, not only do I not know much about plants, I also needed to make sure that what was purchased was cat friendly, because my beautiful boy does so like a morning turn of the terrace and a nibble on something green.

With an assortment of coloured flowers and a big pot of compost, we headed for home and Mum set to work. Once my parents left, I sat in a garden chair, Joe snuggled at my feet and a chilled glass of sauvignon blanc in hand. I realised that this was my favourite bit of gardening, the sitting back, admiring it and relaxing. I decided to stop ‘shoulding’ on myself and instead, respect those that do and admire their efforts once they have done and take solace that we all have our talents, it’s just mine lie away from the now neat, tidy and pretty patch behind my house.

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