Thoughts on … Gardens and Writing




My contribution to the garden this year is putting in bedding plants. I’ve never done bedding plants before. (£5 for 40 at Tesco.)  I am not a natural gardener.

But I like seeing other people’s gardens. Big ones, at National Trust properties and such like. Smaller ones, made with care or flair or simply how the owner likes it. Individual gardens. Gardens where weeds/meadowflowers are welcomed as friends.

It took me a few years of living in suburbia to be hit by the realisation that it doesn’t matter whether one garden is bigger, more colourful, more weed free, more carefully planned and worked on than another. Whatever your criteria, Garden A being better than Garden B should not detract from Garden B.  Every individual statement adds.

As my wise daughter likes to say, ‘it’s all good’. On a fine day, looking at other people’s gardens can turn trudging round delivering political leaflets into an aesthetically positive experience.


Once upon a time I thought I would grow up to write books that lots of people would want to read.*

Although Kevin is still waiting for the best-seller that will make us rich, it is fortunate he did not rely on my income as an author in steering the Smith Family Fortunes. (Marry your accountant is practical advice for the freelance writer, even if you keep him underemployed so that he/she keeps the day job, and you.)

But if I had done nothing more than tell stories with my own children, which involved them imaginatively and passed tedious long journeys or waits in a doctor’s surgery, that would be good. More widely, poetry and stories shared with others so that they became written for that group – along with listening and giving an audience for their work – all good.

This probably sounds trite, over-pious, or obvious, depending on your point of view. But my point of view was at least partly changed by appreciating other people’s gardens.

(*nb to any random publisher miraculously viewing this website, dreams shrink with age  but refuse to die. I have manuscripts, and there will be more work here Real Soon Now … )