now it’s 2022 and I’m not sure whether to put this edit to ‘about me’ before or after what comes below. I’ve never quite got used to the way chains of emails and messages and blog posts begin now and work backwards, so they begin at the end, which is of course a new beginning, and books go the other way.
But what I want to say is that I’ve been thinking about some of my old posts, which are by now buried deep, and I would like to bring some of them to your attention. Let’s start with Bomber Harris. His statue still stands outside the RAF church in the Strand. And the war memorial at Hyde Park Corner to the machine gunners which boasts about how many people can be killed with machine guns. See remembering and forgetting, the bombing of Dresden And back on familiar ground . And even though the hoardings around the Shell site development at Waterloo are long gone I’m still angry about their shameless display of child-exploiting nonsense. See new outrage in SE1 and searching for vibrant, august 2017.
To tell you something of the story behind the series of posts I am writing at the moment (during the famous 2020 lockdown) about plants and gardens –
(if you click on ‘gardens’ in ‘categories’ you will find all the Garden Notes – )
I began gardening in the 1970’s at Laurieston Hall, a commune in south west Scotland. The first things I learnt about were composting and weeds.
For about twenty years I worked in private gardens in north London. There I learnt about flowers and shrubs and what other people want.
For ten years I worked for St Mungo’s, the charity for homeless people, in their gardening project, Putting Down Roots. I still work – though not at the moment – in one of our old places, St John’s churchyard in Waterloo. There I learnt, and am still learning about the two kinds of community garden, that of plants and that of people, and how they connect.
And I have my own garden, which is open sometimes under the National Garden Scheme. I had a date for the end of May this year, but now I hope maybe to open in the autumn instead. There is always cake, and plants for sale.
Thirdly, when I retired from St Mungo’s in 2012 I started working part-time again at G., more of an estate than a garden, in the green belt on the edge of London. With my old apprentice, friend and partner Jamie and quite a few others we began to rip out, reform, lay out, plant and prune about twenty years ago, he carried on full-time with the freedom to indulge his love of plants when I went to St Mungo’s, glad to be out of business, and now it often feels as if I’m the apprentice.
I feel very lucky to be connected with these three gardens, all in the same city but with different soils, micro-climates and communities, (in both senses.)
I’ve walked in the Alps and in the Himalayas (I would love to brave the leeches and see the monsoon flora but I think I’m too old and no longer tough enough.) In the last few years I’ve fallen in love with the mountains of Greece. They talk about ‘the trip of a lifetime’, but I always want another one. And another spring.
All of this informs my Garden Notes, and you’ll find posts about Greece, the Alps – oh, and Scotland! – if you use the menu.