Pamela Page is one of those supremely talented plantswomen who can knock together a lavender parterre and then pen an inspiring piece about gardening in almost the same breath. A self-taught landscape designer (as many of the best gardeners are), she and her husband purchased an 18th century farmhouse in southern Connecticut – which seems to be something of a hothouse for talented horticulturalists (Bunny Williams' famous garden is also in the same part of the country) – and then embarked on an ambitious plan to restore the property. Ten years later, she has created a spectacular space that is so productive, she often sells the excess produce out of the back of her Mercedes each week.
I love the fact that she's happy to use her Merc as a luxury mobile wheelbarrow, but what I love more is that she calls gardening "sexy". She also uses the words 'spiritual', 'whimsical', 'healthy', and 'fun'. I have to say, I like Ms Page. She sounds like a gardener to love.
Recently, I discovered a piece that Pamela wrote about gardening for the Huffington Post – which you can find here: Why I Garden. I was so moved by it, I thought I'd compile my own little list. I'm not as erudite as Pamela Page (far, far from it), but I still hope it inspires some of you to take up this wonderfully therapeutic activity at some stage of your lives.
WHY I GARDEN...
I garden because it's procrastination disguised as a spade. Plus, you can hide in a garden –whether with a digging fork or a good book – and no one will ever know you're there! But if you're cooking raspberry tarts in the kitchen or watching Oprah re-runs in the living room, you have no excuse for your pathetic lack of productivity.
I garden because it's cheap therapy. If I'm mad I can go out to the potager and stick a rake in a weed's heart. Or do something unmentionable to a slug.
I garden because it's great exercise. Pulling up weeds, shovelling soil or hauling bundles of leaves to the compost heap is almost as exhausting as doing a spin class.
I garden because – like a relationship – it takes effort, hard work and lots of love to reap rewards. It won't grow if you don't give it life.
I garden because there is nothing better than wandering out at twilight to pick some fresh rosemary for the roast lamb, or plucking a just-ripe lemon to slice for your evening G&T.
I garden because I like sticking up for the underdog. While some horticultural snobs prefer the posher produce – such as the Purple Podded Dutch thingamebob (apparently it's the Elle Macpherson of beans) – I'm happy to support the little fellas. Such as the good old-fashioned radish.
I garden because it is not for poseurs or pretentious souls. It doesn't matter whether you own a late-model Merc or a McLaren F1, whether you went to Harvard or the Sorbonne, or whether you wear head-to-toe Chanel or haute couture. If you can't grow a squash or some other simple thing, you're not going to last very long.
I garden to be surprised. A new-spring hyacinth one day. A perfect pink summer peony the next.
I garden because even the unwanted flowers are beautiful. (Japanese anemones grow like weeds where we live. But oh – what beautiful weeds they are!)
I garden because it's a living painting. And you get to be Monet for a day. (Or longer, if you're lucky.)
I garden to smell the scent of jasmine on a beautiful spring morning.
I garden because, even though I don't know the Latin names of plants ("what's that pink thingy called" is my oft-repeated phrase at our local nursery), and I often mispronounce names (Pittosporum is such a silly word anyway), the Latin Set still forgive me.
I garden in order to be enthralled by heirloom seeds. Such as Listada di Gandia. And Bohemian Pumpkins.
I garden because there are few things more entrancing than a hand-drawn garden plan.
I garden because it's humbling. Mother Nature is a wicked boss. You can spend a day preparing a lawn and then a heat wave will hit. You can spend a weekend planting an avenue of pears and then a disease will float in on some foul wind. And you can spend a month digging out a potager and planting all your beloved vegetables, only to find there's not enough sun in that spot to grow even a spinach leaf.
I garden because if you try being a little rebellious, it won't work. (For example, just try ignoring your mother's advice and growing that Japanese wisteria or Robinia Casque Rogue and see how much it overtakes the house.)
I garden because there is nothing more spectacular in the world, in my opinion, that the Chelsea Flower Show.