OPINION: It’s amazing what we can do when we try - Father Gary Waddington, Harrogate
I know middle age is upon me. The simple sign is this. Gardener’s World is now a source of fascination, where once, it was the perfect antidote to insomnia.
Now I hang on every word from Monty and the team. I thrill at the sight of a raised bed, new planting scheme, or top tip on aphid reduction.
Yet all this hides a certain guilt. I studied biology at university before I went off to train to do the day job.
And for 30 years I’d wondered what use that biology degree would be (though, to be fair for the last year and a half, it’s come in pretty handy).
The reason for this guilt? I’m rubbish at gardening.
Outside I march, the infectious enthusiasm of Carol Klein’s Bolton twang still reverberating in my ears, to survey something less Harlow Carr and more Judean wilderness.
For parts of the year the grass looks more like a wild meadow: by which I mean not a lovely deliberately seeded mixed wildflower carpet.
No. My grass looks like a weed bed. There’s more moss, than grass.
Yet toil away I go.
I live in the hope of some form of miracle. That one day, despite my efforts, the garden will spring forth in a lush mix of verdant colour so spectacular that I’d be awarded a Gold (or at least a Silver Gilt) if my efforts were to make it to Chelsea.
Fat chance of that, I fear.
However, there are signs that I shouldn’t be downcast.
This year, the laurel hedge has been tamed and trimmed. Neighbours have looked on with excitement (or fear?) as overgrown bushes have been trimmed back.
Even friends on social media have stopped mocking and fêted me with the accolade: “well, that looks better”. High praise indeed.
I wish it was better, but for now, I’ll settle for having done my bit – more than before – and still a way to go, but I’ll hopefully get there.
I realise more than ever that whilst it might take time and care and effort, it’s not an impossible task.
In fact, it can be quite inspiring. But I have to stick at it to get the result.
Now, I’m even thinking about planting some colour into what is for most of the year a flat palate of greens.
What a riot it could all be – in a good, not a bad way. A real garden might finally beckon.
“We were given a garden, let’s not make it a wasteland” is the heart of a recent message Pope Francis delivered on the eve of the UN Climate Conference which begins at the end of this month.
Looking after our patch is more than just a suburban agrarian fantasy.
The garden of our world is more than just “Dahlia or delphinium, dear?”
Climate change is something where we can all make a difference – the only question is: will we?
It’s amazing what we can do, when we try.