Our summer started with a white van man, a delivery from near the Black Mountains of Herefordshire. Hazel poles for climbing beans and peas, a tray of sweet peas, too. All from Jane Scotter at Fern Verrow farm, with a few tomato plants thrown in.
The poles are chunky hazel, full of character – I am not overly keen on bamboo, too straight and featureless – with surfaces for the beans to cling to like climbers on a cliff face.
The sweet peas were raised in Jane’s greenhouse – so much better than on our windowsill, as were the tomatoes. I don’t yet know the flower or fruit varieties or the colours they will be. They don’t come with information. I will wait and see. It’s all part of an unfolding garden mystery.
Jane is my lodestar. Fiercely determined and single-minded, she has carved my favourite farm land out of once-unpromising soil. Whenever I need advice (or hazel poles and/or sweet peas), she is the one I rely on: my gardening Yoda.
Over the next months, the bean poles will be colonised, the sweet peas will climb and open and spread heavenly scent. I’ll share the tomatoes with Kala and friends. I will grow the rest at home, avoiding my wife’s disapproval – their temporary plastic pots are a bit scruffy for her liking. I will cut and put the sweet peas in a jug on the table where I write this.
The tomatoes I will stroke for another favourite fragrance. They won’t be prolific, they will be outdoor-grown, but I will wait for them with a dogged devotion bordering on obsession.
I will watch them all grow. I will harvest and eat too many yellow, green and blue beans and not nearly enough tomatoes. I will thank the gardening gods and Jane Scotter for her generosity, her friendship and advice.
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