If I think back to my very first plant, it would probably be the same one as hundreds, if not thousands of other people. I can still see the jam jars, half filled with cotton wool, lined up on the window sill. Sticky labels stating the owner in brightly coloured felt tip. I honestly don’t think I was that interested in the germination and growth of those little cress seeds. The egg sandwiches and the teddy bears’ picnic that subsequently followed- now those had my full attention!
My mum’s father was a gardener and she inherited a love of flowers, she still tells me that she’d rather spend money on flowers than on food! I’m still not quite convinced on that front, but after spending weekends helping in the garden (I was allowed to sweep the paths), then finally being given a plot of my own to look after at the age of 15 or 16, I began to realise that this gardening lark wasn’t bad.
My first plant that I actually asked for, that I chose myself, that I just had to have was a rose. It was a thing of beauty- “Rhapsody in Blue”. A purpley- blue shrub rose that was covered in flowers! Mum helped me chose it, plant it and admire it. That was the first and unfortunately last rose I chose. It flowered beautifully for the first year, then came the thorny issue (sorry) of pruning. Mum and I couldn’t agree when or where to chop. So it was left. I think the next year it contracted black spot on the leaves, still flowering well though. Another year and another debate on where to prune. I should have just left the whole job to mum, as she had the knowledge, the experience, but no. I think shortly after the end of that summer came my OH, A levels and far more important stuff. So, it was left to fend for itself. I don’t remember what happened to it after that. I suspect it went to the big compost heap in the sky.
I have thought about trying again with roses- I even toyed with the idea of growing roses round the door of our little cottage when we moved in, but there was always the little voice in the back of my head saying “You don’t know how to look after it. You’ll kill it. Don’t do it!”.
So from my first plant- my first complete plant failure, to my last plant gift.
It’s my birthday in just under a week’s time and my aunty asked me what I would like as a gift. We were wondering round a garden centre at the time, I eyed the roses longingly, but once again the voice in the back of my head said “Don’t do it!”. I confessed to her that I’d really, really like a rose to grow up over the back door (we’ve had an extension put on and it’s created a huge wall, that really needs covering). “Well, why not have a rose then?” she asked. “Er, because I’d kill it?” was my reply. My aunty, after hearing my list of reasons why I shouldn’t have a rose, she suggested it might be time to give roses another go. So I came home with “Rambling Rector” and a hope that my last rose will fair better than my first!