Down and dirty Posted on July 6, 2021

Am I the only gardener who suffers from the Clean Shirt Syndrome? I go out to the greenhouse in the morning, spot a plant that could do with a bigger pot, spot a suitable empty one (unwashed) and think “I have a few minutes; I’ll do it now”. There’s the bag of compost, I can find some crocks; I tap the plant out to inspect its root and the rootball falls to pieces in my hands. I thought it would be a quick finger-tip job. I’m still holding it as if it could bite; it’s my clean shirt, on this morning. I can’t roll up the sleeves with compost on my hands. I’m stuck; half-committed.

Gardening only works if you get down and dirty, hands in the soil. Every plant knows when you’re in earnest. It can feel your fingers loving it as you lower it into its bed and press the soil round it, gently but firmly, like a blanket round it’s neck before kissing it goodnight. Planting is the great moment of commitment in gardening. You’ve sown the seed or taken the cutting. You’ve done the nurturing, made the decisions. Now you give it its place for life….. from now it’s all hope and expectation. Water is all you can offer it.

Your shirt is still clean? The plant will notice.

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