My Name is Tara Sinclair and I Abandon Allotments. And Gardens.

I feel a complete fraud posting my gardening blog this week because I have spent virtually all of the summer holidays away from home, enjoying time with the children and thereby doing the equivalent of sticking two green fingers up to my plants and vegetables.

It wasn’t meant to be this way. It was just meant to be the odd week away, but then this led to long weekends, and the odd day out. I really thought I could stop at any time. But then I noticed that, even when I was home, I was avoiding looking at the garden. I found excuses to let Neil go up the allotment. I ignored emails from friends asking me about my gardening process (and the one about the new wheelbarrow, which sounds like a great pressie, sorry Denise).


But now, with the kids back in school next week, I know I must atone for my sins.

Let’s start with the garden. At some time during the week I spent in Scotland, somebody threw the death switch in my garden. The pink rose plant that has produced glorious fragrant blooms all summer (deceased); the plant that Neil’s mom gave me (deceased and literally desiccated); the delicate looking flowers in the tall pots (deceased); the delicate flowers in the flowerbed (deceased); and the two tall trees in pots by the front door (deceased. Although they might already have been dead, I just noticed them). The herb pot is doing well but my mint seems to have flowered, and some distant memory is telling me that it is a Bad Thing.

Perhaps this sorry state of affairs was made all the sorrier because the week before we had been in Huna in Caithness with long suffering cousins Wilma and Steven. Caithness is absolutely fabulous – it’s the last bit of Scotland before you fall off; beyond the Highlands, where it all goes flat again (although it’s a bit of a steep drop).
The flora and fauna in Caithness is amazing. Beautiful flowers grow on coastal turf, in tiny cracks in ancient walls; on sand dunes covered in grass. I promised the kids that we will take a picture of a rose in England (done), a daffodil in Wales, a shamrock in Ireland and a thistle in Scotland, and this thistle was snapped growing near the Grey Cairns at Camster. These are five thousand year old stone burial chambers that you can actually crawl into (on hands and knees) - I still have the dust on my shoes. The information board shows an artists’ impression of what the landscape would have looked like when the cairns were in use. It’s exactly the same as it is today but without the trees. Wow.
So imagine my dismay to learn that while Scottish plants can fight for survival in tough conditions, and eternally struggle to cling onto life, the plants in my garden cannot survive one week alone in Staffordshire in temperate conditions. To be fair, the fruit is doing well, the plum trees are producing more fruit than I thought humanly (plantly?) possible, as is the rhubarb and the Bedford Giant grows ever more, well, giant. But everything else seems to be on its last legs. Well, actually, no the delicate red rose that Peter so kindly pruned for me a couple of months ago has grown into some kind of monster that is literally ripping the trellis off the side of the shed.

I have ventured out into the wilderness this week. Duncan enlightened me about deadheading and I must admit, it did smarten things up straight away, but I don’t think I’ll get any more life out of them there plants. I think maybe I deadheaded a bit too late. I mean they were really, properly dead. It also occurred to me that I haven’t really done a lot to prepare the garden for next year. I am worried I have used all the goodness this year with just the odd feed. So I am currently reading up on what to do to prepare my garden for the fallow period of winter. How to put it to bed properly, so to speak. Obviously I won’t be giving the earth around the red rose any kind of help – I’ll be afraid if I do I’ll wake up to find the flower strangling me in my bed.

Depressingly, it is a similarly disastrous story at the allotment. It’s a jungle out there. To my credit, mine isn’t actually the worst kempt one. Some of them are literally waist high in weeds. I have decided just to showcase my gnome this week to spare my blushes.

At least I have company in my ineptitude. You might remember Jo (owner of allotment and Keeper of Chickens) was going to sell me some of her plants to put in my allotment. Cabbages, sprouts, onions…. I got all excited and started to formulate a plan to grow my own Christmas dinner and everything – all very Tom and Barbara. Unfortunately for me though, one mix up with a watering can and Jo killed off 80 percent of the crop in one fell swoop, and she is currently trying to grow more.

I have decided to leave it another week and if it’s a no go, I will have to revert to Plan B. Plan B mainly consists of going to a gardening centre and buying vegetables, so it is not really a plan, more of a shopping trip. But I’m sticking to it because at this point if I don’t get something planted in my allotment soon, I am going to bury myself in it!

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