Friday, 22 August 2008

A Nice Green Leaf: Chin chin!


I feel ever-so-slightly excited about this bank holiday weekend. Firstly, we might get to check out new Gardeners' World presenter Toby Buckland (pictured) in action; but in addition, programme schedulers have also promised us a little bit of Matthew Wilson, widely regarded in blogging parts as the one that got away as far as the top GW job is concerned. 

Having watched Gardeners' World last week I can't help feeling they are beginning to get the formula better  than it has been for months. There was lots of detail about the sweet pea trials at Wisley, a nice thing about ethno-botanist James Wong's garden, and loads of serious propagation from Carol Klein, who's been standing in for Monty since he got ill and who I will greatly miss when she takes a bit of a step back. (I even enjoyed Joe's briefly choked-up moment about getting awarded a scout veg-growing badge).

As far as the rest of my gardening weekend goes, I'm looking forward to reading the papers - despite Garden Monkey's monkeyish dismissal of most weekend garden writing as "frippery" this week. I definitely don't want my column to go down as a gristly amuse-bouche, but then I
absolutely love reading those weekend garden pieces: I got into gardening partly by reading columns like Christopher Lloyd's (early on in Country Life, later in the Guardian).

I'm sure even Garden Monkey would agree that CL is sacrosanct. Yet I would defend quite a lot of other frippery too. I constantly enjoy reading what other people have to say about gardening. I love Carol Klein's column in the Weekend Guardian, short and sweet. I absolutely worship at the feet of Dan Pearson, and could instantly reel off my top five columns of his that he did this
year (these two are amongst my best, epitomising his calm, elegant, passionate way of writing about plants). I love being made to feel deeply inadequate by Sarah Raven as she reveals herself to be totally proficient in growing yet another group of plants I have no idea about. Cleve makes me laugh (a client who banned yellow) and Anna Pavord can too, especially when she tries to cut back on her gardening budget. 

I also own the collected weekend columns of Elspeth Thompson and Ursula Buchan and I read them whenever I need a cheer up. And Val Bourne, who writes regularly for the Telegraph on the weekend, is one of my favourite writers for summing up the exact essence of a plant - she
wrote all those tempting descriptions on Crocus which often finally seal the deal as far as I'm concerned.  And no one can persuade to miss consulting Helen Yemm, who manages weekly to find solutions to Britain's most pressing gardening pests, diseases and mysterious failures, whilst also keeping us up to date about what's going on in her garden. And I haven't even
mentioned Robin Lane Fox, king of the witty piece taken from a totally new angle (his new year's resolutions in January were a delight, as were his veg in pots).

In fact I could probably spend the entire weekend reading the weekend's garden writing. And wouldn't mind at all. Although I am hoping for good weather on at least one day this weekend, I could never find it a chore to be left alone to ponder any of these entertaining, informative
writers. Which is why I for one will never agree with Garden Monkey that it's mere "frippery"; I find all these writers inspire me, provoke me, inform and surprise me. How I look at a garden has been fundamentally shaped by newspaper writers, and if that means I'm the kind of person who could exist on just canap├ęs, all I can say is: pass the sausages on sticks. And cheers!

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