Although on the whole I cannot praise my choice of career enough, I have to admit that gardening can sometimes be a lonely pursuit, especially for us jobbing gardeners. Literally this is often true, the nature of the job means we work alone on a regular basis, but also spiritually – the opportunity to share problems and experiences is scarce. Social media has gone a long way to alleviate this isolation but the role of horticultural groups and societies should not be ignored, they are often godsends. I am not a natural “joiner”, as a natural flitter I find it hard to commit to one thing, but I am easily bullied and MM “persuaded” me (it involved a head lock) to join the noble Plant Heritage. One thing leads to another and before you know it you are in the midst of the local horticultural social whirl. In the time between winter shut-down and summer mayhem there seems to be a plethora of events. In the last couple of weeks I have been to three such shindigs involving listening to tales from (Little Dixter), Andy McIndoe (Hilliers) and this weekend a full on Plant Heritage day at Marwood Hill Gardens. This involved knowledgeable folks educating us on the diverse subjects of plant disease, micropropation and the flora of New Zealand, raffles, garden walks, an evil and sadistic quiz, not to mention a splendid lunch the highlight of which was, and always is, an admirable fruit crumble and custard. At each event there are familiar faces, warm greetings followed by a quick life précis. You come away feeling restored, recharged, a little warmer in the heart region. There is something very heartening in just knowing these people are out there. They understand what is involved, why it could take an age to weed a m2 of infested soil, why sometimes plants die, why on occasion they thrive, why you can’t control the weather, why you can’t remember the name of that rose, why some days it just seems too much bother.
This is Magnolia campbellii subsp. mollicomata. When you stand beneath this magnificent tree, look skyward to the outrageously beautiful blooms and inhale the nectar of the gods, it is all patently clear why you and all your peers bother.