I must have been dozing to have missed my own fortieth birthday – or rather Trad’s. It happened in June: forty years since the first number of the Journal of the RHS reborn as The Garden.
I was in charge of the mag then, and looking for an editorial leader column. I decided to write it myself, but quasi-anonymously. I used the nom de plume of Tradescant because it seemed to be a name uniquely associated with gardening, without any current claimants. Icouldn’t find a soul answering to it in England or anywhere else.
I’m still at it. It grew into a habit I was (and am) loathe to shake off. There is an odd comfort in slipping into a persona which is oneself, but not quite. I put on Trad’s old tweed jacket, cuffs fraying and elbows patched, and record his current thoughts or preoccupations. Often they coincide with my own.
For many years we worked together in an ambitious garden of twelve country acres. We have gardened together in France, in Hampshire and Wales, and now have a thousand square feet of Kensington as our headquarters. We have the constant stimulus of visiting gardens and nurseries, of conversations and the library; there is never a lack of matter for gossip and reflection. Will Trad make it to fifty? Will he make it to forty one? We shall see.