Sunday, 22 September 2013

And so forth.....

 .......into the new academic year, fourth and final year of my part time BA in Garden Design... have I spent the summer, much like my unripe tomatoes, procrastinating...

So as I think of too much green tomato chutney, I recall courgettes that overwhelmed the vegetable patch this summer, day after day......what I didn't do with those courgettes! I should write a recipe book...grilled, steamed, stir fried, roasted, thrown in spag bol, chilli, casseroles, soup, fritters...even Lily dog was eating them.

At Chelsea this year I met James Wong promoting his 'Home Grown Revolution'.  I was given some cucamelon seeds by his marketing campaigners, these inspired me to check out his website and buy some more unusual plants to grow and eat. I have ripe popcorn 'Fiesta' which look amazing, I can't wait to eat them. The tomatillos, Inca berries and cucamelon are still to ripen, fingers crossed, a few more days and I shall be trying weird and wonderful delights from my garden. I also grew the 'electric daisies', described as an 'electric shock on your tongue'; believe me, this is an accurate description, it is an amazing sensation, not recommended for those with a sensitive disposition but hilarious on a salad with friends tucking in (if you have a wicked side!).
Anyway, I noticed James is coming to my city in November to give a talk... front row for me please! 

Popcorn 'Fiesta', electric daisies, cucamelons
and the last courgette.
Now, in the front garden, what we call the 'hairy bush' (Viburnum lantana) needs a hair cut... and the Lavender needs cutting back, sadly it is so large now I think my wonderful hedge will need ripping out next year, for this year though, we can enjoy using the lavender for scented bags (the students that I teach in Supported Learning will love that :\? ) mum will anyway!!! Time is running out for these jobs, Monday 23rd September is edging ever nearer....

 My prized possession tree ferns (Dicksonia antartica) will need wrapping up in their bubble wrap (picture to follow in October) before the weather turns. "They look like massive condoms" my female elderly neighbour informed me! She looks out of her bedroom window to the stars and says goodnight to her late husband (he's not late back from the pub, I hasten to add) but my condoms and twinkling solar fairy lights distract her gaze from the sky to my garden, which apparently makes her chuckle! I didn't realise that my garden was a so amusing in the comedic sense.

Back to the procrastinating...I am sure lots of us are good at that..? It's not good...we should learn to stop it!

Monday 23rd September starts the final year of my degree, one day per week, at 9am an hour drive to Avery Hill campus (part of Greenwich University), nine hours of lectures/workshops and an hour drive home arriving at 10pm. I have managed 3 years already, a job of teaching horticulture two days a week and a family too. "Why?" you might ask... Achievement at degree level, a high level of competence in understanding Horticulture and Garden Design means opportunities to earn a living in a field that is enjoyable and that makes a difference (sounds a bit pretentious but I am sincere). I am clearly not alone with these ambitions, as I have met so many people who want to change their careers, become 'self sufficient', rent an allotment, own chickens or 'grow their own'. You may know someone or be trying it yourself....we are everywhere, infiltrating every walk of life....I will finish this degree and I am determined for it to make a difference to my life.

Positivity and encouragement most welcome at this point, thank you. ;)

It is an exciting time for gardening; I am enthused every day by the snowball of encouragement to 'grow' from many different organisations. With gardening on the National Curriculum for 2014, children will understand how important plants are to life. It is an interesting scenario when students of 16 + who cannot understand why we need plants! It is my job to explain it and every time I do, I realise how important it is to encourage and inspire the next generation into growing plants. The project we have this term is to grow herbs for the college canteen, the students will observe the magic of plants grown to eat. They will grow them from seed, research their chosen herb, taste and smell different herbs, take them home and maybe...I hope, will grow more of their own.

I always thought gardening was the boring thing that my granddad did in the smelly greenhouse, digging the scruffy vegetable patch and tending his immaculate rectangle of grass. I cannot imagine what he would say if he knew that 30 years later his granddaughter teaches gardening to students with special educational needs, is completing a degree in Garden Design, attends Hampton Court and Chelsea flower shows every year, was runner up in a TV amateur gardening show, grows her own fruit and vegetables and actually intends on continuing a career in Horticulture, whatever form that may be. I hope he would congratulate me, tell me to go and meet all those like-minded people, be successful, make friends along the way, do something worthwhile and conquer the world...well maybe not the last bit!

 And so forth I go, on my journey with any of you who would like to join me. Anyone who loves plants, loves gardening, loves growing and eating your own produce, loves wild life and the out doors. If you would like to hear about the trials and tribulations of the Flowery Friends (friends on my BA), or just read about how I manage the next nine really will be like having a baby, with a prize at the end for that final push and everything!! 

My next post will probably not be for a while, I will be studying hard, drawing lots and refusing to let that pesky procrastinating gremlin bother me, if you see it...or feel tell it I'm busy with the bubble wrap!
James Wong's website:
RHS shows and ticket information:
Info on BA Garden Design:
My work department's Facebook page:
The TV amateur gardening show; Turf Wars (presenter Julie Peasgood)

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