The perils of an amateur gardener

The perils of an amateur gardener 1940 1280 Haggie Partners

It seems millennials love plants. That’s what research and trends are showing and I am happy to be one of those who support this data. My love affair with plants began when I started university and moved to Whitechapel in East London. Close by is the famous Columbia Road Flower Market, which is several centuries old and has had many names, but the one that’s used today dates back to the 1860s.

My flatmate and I wandered over to the market one sunny Sunday morning. It was heaving with what seemed like thousands of people squished between two rows of 19th century houses, something that seems almost absurd to think of now. Everyone was shuffling around, making their way through an array of flora. We ended up buying three plants: a large jasmine bush, a ginormous bamboo plant and a peace lily. With our haul, we walked the 40-minute trip back to our flat, a feat immortalised on our respective Instagram feeds. Here our gardening adventure began.

However, our plants didn’t keep pace with our ambitions… None of the plants survived the year, we were thwarted by our lack of ability.

Nevertheless, I’ve continued attempting to cultivate miniature jungles in all my subsequent abodes. I’d take breaks while writing my university dissertation and walk to the nearby mega-Tesco, which stocked a rather impressive selection of dead or dying foliage. As I have not yet discovered an ability to raise the departed, I plumped to buy the severely discounted plants which were on the verge of giving up. I bought a lovely coffee plant for 65p, a heretofore unknown bush for 45p and a random assortment of dodgy looking flowers each priced at roughly 50p. As I lived in a rather damp and dingy basement at the time, none of the plants did particularly well, but they survived for about half a year, until I made the mistake of going on holiday for Christmas and came back to an assortment of dried up shrubs.

All, that is, apart from one.  Amazingly the unknown bush that cost me a mere 45p has reached an 18-month milestone.

Just as the lockdown was announced in March, I took the plants from my desk at work and got on the train to my parents.  I hunkered down in the countryside and I have to say, my plants are much happier outside of London.

A major benefit of being at home is my parents’ garden. There is no outside space with my flat in London so during lockdown, I’ve taken real joy in, and had a real appreciation for the green space I’ve been living in. I’ve been helping my dad in the garden; we’ve dug up some flower beds, planted shrubs and wildflowers, hung up bird feeders and have done an obscene amount of weeding. It’s all very satisfying.

Sadly, I pulled a muscle in my back while digging over the weekend. Clearly, I have not quite mastered this gardening lark yet…

Oh well, at least the unknown shrub is healthy and well on its way to surviving two years under my amateur green fingers.