Travel hopefully Posted on September 11, 2016

Discuss: Lower your aspirations and achieve a higher success rate. Its logical; baying for the moon has never had a success rate at all. Content is most easily found by starting with low expectations. It’s a good excuse not to frequent three-star restaurants.

I am, I admit, that kind of gardener. Or at least part of me is. I can’t quite bring myself to admire groundsel (except for its example as a profligate survivor) and I don’t weed random seedlings until I’m sure of what they are or might be, I can accept half-hearted flowering in a plant I am fond of. delay dead-heading and leave fading plants standing in the hope of some aesthetic justification for their remains. You won’t find me dropping everything to go and tidy up; you will, on the other hand, find me loitering with secateur s when there’s a deadline at my desk.

Perhaps this is the moment to say that I am pleased (or not displeased) to be harvesting my total crop of eight tomatoes. Tiny ones at that (but red). They have endured a small pot, intermittent watering, a life lived in 80% shade, and an attack of whitefly. So I shall enjoy them as a minor triumph.

The process of gardening is more important than the result – until, that is, you open for the National Gardens Scheme. Who was it who said ‘to travel hopefully is better than to arrive’? A bonus point for the first to put up their hand. I had to look it up too: it sounds rather ‘Confucius he say’, so I was surprised to see that it is one of my favourite authors, Robert Louis Stevenson. As a youngman he wrote sententious essays, collected together as Virginibus Puerisque. That’s where you’ll find it.

Is it, though? Better than to arrive, I mean. What is a gardening arrival? The moment when the shutter clicks and you have something for your album? The moment you pour yourself a drink and sink into a chair? What will you be thinking about as you take a sip? Whether you can get away without mowing before the weekend.

Even Japanese Zen gardens haven’t arrived. Daily raking is existential for them. The Grand Condé’s chef Vatel killed himself because the fish was late. Gardeners take heart; there is no gardening equivalent.

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