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The Year of the Garden

Herbs at Sheepdrove Organic Farm
I walked the long way home by the canal yesterday just because it was there, all narrow boats, sunlight and ducklings (ahhh!) and blackthorn blossom blowing into the water. Soon I am going to the official launch of the National Gardens Scheme Yellow book, a genteel and pleasant occasion and I am looking forward to seeing my NGS friends.

It is perverse. The more there is to blog about, the less time there is to do so and vice versa. On the work front there are places to go and people to see and on the garden front it is all getting going in a very exciting fashion.

My car has very rudely gone bang, which means that my garden centre list is starting to get slightly out of control. I try and exercise extreme restraint at all times, but right now I want to get pelletted chicken manure and two Lonicera fragrantissima and a cardoon and a small shrub rose and a couple of dark orange Erysimum and some candelabra primulas and an evergreen shrubby thing to go in front of the new dustbin-hide (up which I am going to grow a clematis) and another magnolia would be nice and I wonder if I dig a bigger, more composty hole if I could replace my hydrangea petiolaris which died because it was in too dry a spot and I would like a Solanum jasminoides but I don’t know where I am going to put it yet....and so on.

All of which sounds slightly Augustus Gloop-ish but we have spent four years getting the house up to scratch with the garden playing second fiddle. It started life as a jungle of head-high goldenrod and thistles and now, with the structure in place and the perennials starting to bulk up, it is time for some serious planting. This is going to be the year. Oh yes.

Last summer I visited Sheepdrove Farm in Berkshire where they grow lots of exciting herbs for Neal’s Yard cosmetics. There were some excellent ginger biscuits in the eco-conference centre and I had a lovely chat with Peter Kindersley (of Dorling Kindersley fame). One of the good things about this job is that one meets a lot of inspiring and dynamic people and Peter is one for the ‘when I grow up...’ list. I wrote all about it in Amateur Gardening (26 March issue), if you are interested.

Still on the subject of lotions and potions, I recently bought some Wise Woman hand cream. It may well be advantageous to be wise when choosing cosmetics and the higher the SPF the better, but I can’t help thinking that slightly rash women probably have more fun.

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