‘Country Grandpa’ (grandpa to my four children) is retiring soon. As a celebration of this major event, or rather in preparation for it, ‘Country Granny’ decided to send him on a one-day gardening course. As you might imagine, he wasn’t exactly falling over himself with excitement at the prospect of a day hanging out with other plant and potting enthusiasts, but as always with good grace he agreed to go.
This is what he had to say about it..
Did the Earth move for you? .. Not precisely but recently I have moved lots of soil and manure. How did I get there? Full time retirement is looming and my dearly beloved seems concerned that I may get bored with all this free time. Although I do enjoy pottering around the garden it is with a great deal of ignorance and she feels I could do with some professional help. Her solution was for me to attend a one day gardening course run by Georgie Newbery at her working flower farm.
- Lesson 1 on the Cuttings & Borders Workshop was a mug of decent coffee around the kitchen table with her mother’s Gilly’s Buns and meeting the other students – not boring old geriatrics like me but three mature, young at heart ladies with backgrounds ranging from journalism to dairy farming.
- Lesson 2 involved moving to a large utility room where laid out on the table for each of us, were five flower pots and a bucketful of Georgie’s special compost – not some exotic pre-packed bag from a garden centre promising everything – but just a mixture of well rotted horse manure and local municipal compost.
- Lesson 3 involved watering and placing the compost in our pots ready to receive a variety of seeds. This was accompanied by a great deal of giggling and mirth as the finer qualities of horse versus dairy cow manure were discussed in answer to the enforced bias of our dairy student. We imitated Georgie’s way of putting precisely five seeds into each of the five pots which she followed by a demonstration of ‘pinching out’, a task we had to accomplish once the seeds had grown about two inches high. The five pots of seeds we would take with us was sufficient to replenish any moderately sized garden and came with Georgie’s guarantee which is as good as you can get.
- Lesson 4 was all important lunch.
We returned to the farmhouse kitchen table where Georgie’s Fabrizio (apparently the affectionate nickname for her husband but I missed the explanation inthe telling) had quietlylaid out a steaming cauldron of thick leek and potatoes soup with a local crusty loaf and Somerset cheeses. This was no rest period. Questions, discussions and answers flowed as we students tried to glean as much information as we could in amongst some erudite discussions on the use of capital letters, the position of the inevitable apostrophe and the best route to a village in North Somerset.
- Lesson 5, with coffee mugs in hand and more Gilly Buns, we continued with Georgie showing us the various techniques of ‘potting on’ into a well manured garden after hardening by a shady wall. It was quite clear that Georgie follows her own advice, gleaned over the five years she and her husband have developed their successful cut flower business at Common Farm. The coup de grace was to add the green house effect by covering our seeds with clear plastic disposable beer glasses and encouraging them with gentle mutterings as if crooning to a baby.
- Lesson 6 was a personalised Gardeners’ Question Time when Georgie happily answered queries about our own gardens.
We were then set free with our much admired five pots, to return to our unsuspecting homes. My initial scepticism was totally ill-founded. The day was ideal for the dabbling gardener, with valuable demonstrations and practical work and above all, useful, down to earth advice (its there again!). A real fun day that has fired my enthusiasm for the garden and of course, has left me fully trained in the marital arts of staying away from ‘under her feet’.