Nigel Slater and me

It’s been a fuzzmumpy sort of a day. So, I’ve been out for a ride on my bike and come back to water my garden. It’s not fun to be someone interested in politics in the UK at the minute. It’s a roller coaster.

But, our garden restores me and reminds me to be grateful. We have friends, who live in a gardenless flat, who love sitting in our garden just being surrounded by leaves and growing things. And I think to myself afterwards, how lucky we are to have a bit of garden. Our bit of garden being 70sq m at the back, 24sqm at the side and 64sq m at the front. I’ve put the measurements in just so you know exactly what I class as a ‘bit’

You see I remember a few years ago avidly reading Nigel Slater’s Tender books. I loved them and the way he talked about what he grew in his tiny garden, which he was at pains to remind readers, really was tiny. I felt part of a tiny garden partnership, me and Nigel and what we could achieve with our tiny gardens. Yah boo sucks to all you people with acres of space, me and Nigel were tending our tiny plots and growing stuff. The tiny garden people were going to conquer the gardening world!

I do this you see, with gardens. I did the same with Alys Fowler and her Edible Garden TV series, I spent half the time I watched that programme desperately trying to work out how big her self-confessed small garden really was.

Anyway, back to Nigel. I decided I’d investigate how big his garden was. Maybe it was so small as to be miraculous? It took a lot of reading of online articles he’d written about his garden, (I admit that after the event, this does sound a bit, well, stalky, but I found it eventually, the size of his garden. That was when I realised with crushing humility that Nigel’s version of tiny and mine weren’t the same. The sense of betrayal was huge. His garden and growing space was around three times what mine was. I finished reading the books, but the joy had gone out of them. They sat for years afterwards gathering dust until their traitorous reminder of how let down I’d felt encouraged me to donate them to charity.

It’s been a salutory lesson in phrases such as ‘small’ and ‘tiny’ when people talk about their gardens. They are relative terms. But whatever the size of my garden, I’ve come to terms with it now, well, nearly, I still cast an envious glimpse as bigger gardens, but I love our garden. It’s smallness means that ‘we’re so intimate with it’ as a friend of mine, with acres of space, commented. But most of all, I’m grateful that at the end of a wearisome day I’ve got its green and leafy embrace to make me feel better.

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