The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Garden Centre

There are few words or phrases that are capable of bring me out in a cold sweat, but “Garden Centre” is one of them.

Spring has finally sprung in this corner of Scotland. It has been warm, summery weather for the past week or so – we even had a thunderstorm at the weekend – and almost overnight, hedgerows and trees have at last allowed their leaves to unfurl. Suddenly the landscape has become very green indeed. But as sure as sap rises, Maggie has been itching to get to a garden centre.

Maggie is passionate about gardening: she loves learning the Latin names of all the plants; she revels in getting her hands dirty in the soil; and she adores seeing the plants grow. Whenever I hear someone say “Earth Mother” a vision of my wife always springs to mind.

Maggie loves me dearly and as long as I don’t mention blogging or the Internet, then she’s happy to accept that our souls are so deeply entwined that they are becoming as one over the years. But despite the incredibly close connection we share she is utterly mystified and completely unable to completely grasp the fact that I have no interest in gardening whatsoever.

Oh of course I enjoy sitting in a garden with lots of plants and flowers – preferably colourful and fragrant while not setting off my hay-fever – but I cannot identify anything more exotic than a daffodil, and I certainly couldn’t tell you how many varieties there are. And with the possible exception of visiting Ikea, I can think of few things more boring and pointless than wandering around a bloody garden centre.

But because I have no interest in types of potting compost, or how to create a bamboo frame to grow sweet peas, I find myself panicking about the amount of money that can drain away quicker than nutrients in excessively sandy soil. It’s an unknown world to me and so induces a sense of unease.

Unfortunately this results in me becoming a grumpy husband who mutters things like “limited financial resources…”, “not enough space in the car…” or “unwarranted strain on the rear axle…” while what I really want to say is “here’s the credit card – buy what you want and I’ll arrange for a haulage company to get it back home ready for you to play with.” I want to indulge her; I want to let her dive head first into prime, organic, peat-free compost and damn the consequences. Instead I start rifling through bank statements and asking if the phone bill’s been paid yet.

So today our friend Liz is accompanying Maggie round the garden centre. She needs a few things for herself but I suspect her primary role is that of moral support for my wife against the sour faced man she's married to. Meanwhile I’m sitting in the car writing the first draft of this blog entry with a pen on a wee notepad I found in the glove box.

It’s a long time since I last used a pen for anything more than signing cheques or completing Sudoku puzzles so my handwriting really has degenerated. I just hope that I’ll be able to (argh! What’s that scribble? Looks like it starts with a d… is that a ph in the middle? Aha! “Decipher” That’s it!) decipher it all later.

Oh wait – there goes the phone – looks like I’m needed to go in and help lift a couple of 56 litre bags of potting compost onto the trolley and wheel it to the checkout, credit card at the ready...

23 comments

Nikki said...

Kim, you sound just like my husband.

I have only recently (in the past 5 or 6 years) become a garden bug.
I love it. Until the plants die.

I'm afraid I'm alot like your wife. I could spend all day and most of our annual income at a nursery.

My husband accompanies me for heavy lifting and to make sure I don't by any daisies. (He hates them)

Best of luck to your attention span and check book.

Kim Ayres said...

Nikki - I think I can put my total lack of interest in gardening down to a pivotal childhood experience.

I'd planted an apple seed in a pot, lovingly watered it every day and was delighted when it sprouted and I had my very own apple tree in the making.

One day I came home from school to find that the pot had ben knocked over, my mini tree (about 2 inches high) was nowhere to be seen and either my brother or sister (I never did find out who it was) had hastily grabbed the nearest weed they could find and shoved it into the pot in the hope that I wouldn't notice.

Oddly enough I've never had any interest since.

Stella said...

Kim, I have just discovered gardening, or really that should be rediscovered as I used to enjoy it before I had my children. Had to abandon the garden then to water, feed and nurture the rugrats. We moved house 3 years ago, had a lot of building work to do and the garden we inherited with the house was destroyed but I am now reclaiming it and have been to THE GARDEN CENTRE and boy is it easy to spend! My dear husband did not accompany me, brought sister-in-law, the gardener, with me and just spent his money. So now of an evening I am out watering and tending to my flowers - some of my friends are still laughing!

By the way, I think I caught your cold (hope you have recovered) or maybe it's this gardening lark, too much fresh air.

Dr Joseph McCrumble said...

Living in a mobile Insititute does mean that gardens are a tad difficult to establish. My green-fingered wife perseveres of course, and always has several large tubs full of herbs, bulbs etc scattered around the place. I collect the snails that inevitably (by telepathy?) detect the aforementioned tubs and dissect them to see if they are carrying anything interesting.

SafeTinspector said...

I hate the garden center as well. Weekend landscaping drained my pocketbook of $240US and left me with terrible allergies and a broken sprinkler pipe.

Gyrobo said...

I used to have a plant. Raised it since I was in robot school. Then it died, just like all organic life.

Monstee said...

Me too never did care too much for gardening. Me grandmomstee started me small vegetable garden when me was very young monstee... but all it grew was grass.

mmmmMMMmmmgrass...

Today me will admit that me have group of very small pots with very small plants growing in them. Me do like to have me fresh herbs! Roadkill am delightful in pesto sauce. Also, me like to grow catnip... just to see the kitties get high on drugs!

Kim Ayres said...

Stella - I know viruses can be transmitted over the Internet, but I ddin't realise that included colds...

Dr J McC - sounds like you need to think about a window box that you can tuck under your arm on the move

SafeTinspector - OK, you win. My experience wasn't as bad as that.

Gyrobo - Do you have a robot religion to help you deal with the cycles of life, death and coming back as fertiliser for the next generation of plants (or recylced as a coffee machine in your case)?

Monstee - you can be arrested around here for growing grass. It might be legal in Holland though.

Gyrobo said...

As a robot, I'm an automatic member of the First Church of Tax Exempt Status. They give you a tote bag and everything.

Also, the plant can only truly die if ultraviolet radiation is involved.

Rhonda said...

When I moved across country, I left my green thumb - and a very pretty garden - behind. I just haven't figured it all out again in a new climate and am actually enjoying saving myself the money and labor. Thus, I think I can see things from both your's and Maggie's perspectives.

Attila The Mom said...

Bahahaha! You and my husband could be soul mates.

Woke up this morning to 3 inches of snow. Gak!

Tree said...

I like to plant a garden, its all the maintenance that is required afterwards. I get bored with it, then I just can't be bothered.

After reading what I just wrote I am beginning to think I probably shouldn't have children.

Kim Ayres said...

Gyrobo - sometimes I sit here for several minutes trying to work out how to write a reply to some of your entries.

Rhonda - If you ever had a green thumb then my guess is that it's just a matter of time before it starts calling to you again.

Atilla - snow? Given the fact that the leaves on the beech trees have finally come out in the past few days I think I'd be really disheartened if it started snowing now.

Tree - with a name like Tree, I'd have thought long-term patience wouldn't have been a problem

Charlie said...

I think the sorriest, er, saddest thing about this post, Kim, is the story of your childhood apple tree loss. Tree-angst is a terrible thing to suffer for thirty years.

Although the weed-for-tree ruse is quite funny . . .

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks for the sympathy Admiral...

Foot Eater said...

I found myself coerced along to the B&Q garden centre last Saturday to buy 'hanging baskets', whatever they are. We came away with some birdseed and a barbecue. A good afternoon's shopping, all told.

Belovedlife said...

KIm, YOu and my husband, Bstrong should have a chat again. He took up landscaping and did a great job in my front yard. He tore out old hedges and put ina garden complete with flowers eevenly spaced. It looks fabulous.
He also did a bunch of interior painting on the house...the bug has caught him.
I on the other hand have the black thumb. I kill plants.

Gyrobo said...

Sometimes I spend several minutes thinking of ways to totally destroy a perfectly coherent sentence.

Then the chimes start ringing, the door starts singing, and the belhop tells me it's my floor.

Dr Maroon said...

Garden centres.

That's what I typed yesterday. I had to stop. Too provocative.

Kim Ayres said...

Foot Eater - Birdseed and a barbecue eh? Is this some kind of new darstardly way of tempting the pigeons down for an instant meal on sunny days?

Belovedlife - well I would chat, but a it's a couple of months since he last updated his blog I was beginning to fear he'd dropped off the planet. Thaks for taking the time to comment again - it's been a while. Hope you're managing to keep on top of your studies :)

Gyrobo - yes, I'll take three...

Dr Maroon - Perhaps I should have followed your example

SheBah said...

I like garden centres - it's buying that spindly plant and hoping it'll turn into a lavish bush. Never does as without regular follow up care, it stays spindly.
And having a go on those swinging garden seats, poking your finger at the goldfish in the aquarium section and admiring the truly naff garden ornaments - so naff they are almost chavaliciously funky.

Kim Ayres said...

SB - Chavaliciously is a brand new word for me and will be added to my dictionary forthwith!

Foot Eater said...

Thanks for the idea, Kim. Will try it this weekend.

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