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Why we should all stop gardening

By Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  Posted: August 01, 2009

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REGULAR readers of this blog will remember the harrowing story of our pathetic efforts to keep goldfish alive but, if we're honest, we've had a much worse killing spree than that.

Don't worry, the rabbit's still fit and well, and the good news is that the fish are surviving so far. Three of them at least.

Jaws the fifth, Peter the third and Wes the Second are all fighting fit - despite Wes giving the others a chronic bout of whitespot a few months ago.

But while we've seemingly solved the almost impossible conundrum behind not killing fish, we're failing miserably at keeping any sort of plant-life remaining upright.

I've achieved a lot in my life. I was the un-disputed egg and spoon champion back in primary school, my prowess at selling mobile phones in my previous job once won me a holiday in Milan and I've even convinced an attractive girl to marry me. But keeping plants alive is harder than all those things rolled in to one.

I'm going to list our disasters but, before I do, I must warn any plant-lovers that our collection of catastrophes could make for some upsetting reading.

We have so far tried to grow but, instead, managed to kill: Sunflowers, broad beans, apples, pears, blackberries, blueberries, parsley (we actually ate that so it doesn't really count); tea, coffee, several varieties of rose, a selection of hanging baskets and dozens of other potted plants that only my mother knows the name of.

It's horrifying, I know, and before anyone with a beard and dirt under their finger-nails bleats at me about regular watering and feeding and the right soil and light and so on - we did all that. We got it wrong, obviously, but we had a bloody good go.

We deliberately chose a house with a garden because we wanted to look after it and care for it and be surrounded by fragrant colour as a reward, but nobody ever said that, to achieve this, we'd need a degree in horticulture.

It's not all bad news though. It's not as if our garden resembles an arrid desert - quite the opposite in fact.

And therein lies another problem. While we're categorically dangerous at rearing flowers and plants we are, and I welcome any challengers to this title, the best weed growers in the country.

Our weeds surpass just about anything I've ever seen. We have thistles that are bigger than Lizzy, grass growing out of places you wouldn't have thought existed and dozens of plants suddenly appearing that actually look a bit like flowers.

Which leads me to the next big problem, and adds further weight to my argument that, to have a pretty garden, you need to have spent at least three years studying what the task entails. What is a weed, exactly?

You'll see a lot of greenery in my garden, because most of the weeds are green. But some of them have flowers on, and I thought that weeds were supposed to be unsightly?

I only assume they're weeds to start with because they're growing out of the cracks in the paving slabs and we didn't ask them to do that.

This is what I understood weeds do. They grow when you don't ask them to whereas plants and flowers die in droves whenever you try your best to keep them alive.

Am I missing something here, or is society getting something wrong? Why spend hours of a precious sunny day tending to your pansies when dandelions do it all for you?

One of the purple things that's spreading wildly along the edge of my lawn is, I'm told, a weed - but it's every bit as attractive as the orange things we spent a fortune on and failed miserably to keep alive.

Why on earth are we buying flowers when they seem to spring up of their own accord?

As I look out of my window now I can see a beuatiful little "weed" that's grown up out the gravel by the doorstep.

It's blowing in the breeze and at each tip of its young shoots are little pink flowers that will, in a few days, be a riot of colour.

On the other hand I then look across at my violently expensive miniature olive tree which is sitting on a wonk and looking rather dishevelled after it failed to produce blossom this year.

So forgive me if I don't buy any more plants because the stupid things just die in a few weeks and you then have to buy even more.

I'm going to pop out in a minute and water one of my weeds. Actually, that might be a bad idea.

Everything I've cared for in the past has died. So I'm going to go out there and yell at it a bit. Then I might kick it.

Then I think I'll uproot it and throw it at the neighbour's cat. I bet any money, within a fortnight, it grows back twice its size and with even more flowers.

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2 comments

  • Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  October 14 2009, 1:41PM

    What a great idea! I also like the thought of never buying eggs again too. Although, the rabbit has first dibs on veg scraps and dandelion leaves. And I think there may be a covenant on our house forbidding the keeping of livestock. I may check it out though, watch this space!

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  • Ashbourne News Telegraph  |  October 14 2009, 1:32PM

    Hens are the answer - they eat most plants and I don't have a single weed in my garden. They also mow the lawn. And fertilise it. Their other food costs hardly anything. They are pathetically grateful for all donations of scraps (although mine don't like carrots) and clear up slugs like there's no tomorrow.

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