Friday 31 October 2008

Bitch fest

I’ve been part of the gardening trade/horticultural industry for about 25 years – yes, really, that long! And I’ve always been impressed about how friendly an industry it is. When you go to trade or flower shows or press days you usually bump into the same people – many are now old friends (others you try to avoid!) – and you have a good catch up, find out what they’re up to and generally have a good gossip about things - and try to find out about the latest rumours, or even start some. All in all, it’s good clean fun and even the bitching and gossiping is done in good spirits.

But now, all that seems to have changed. Or maybe there’s something in the air – or the water, or maybe it has all been a sham and the masks and gloves have finally come off.

I’ve been checking out numerous blogs and forums recently and on just about every one someone is saying something nasty about someone else, or the company they work for or just having a general moan about life/people/the industry in general. Maybe it’s the pressure of having to blog or put up posts regularly that’s to blame; what/who can I write about/take the mick out of today!

In no way am I in favour of the internet/blog police coming along with their big plodding feet and truncheons and putting a stop to all this – generally it brings a smile to my face (even when the work I do is the subject of some abuse), sometimes it can be very interesting and gives you an insight into people’s characters. And as Oscar Wilde once said: “The only thing worse than being talked about – is not being talked about”!

Some are just down right funny and are essential reading. Undoubtedly, the best of the bunch is Garden Monkey. No-one that I know of knows who he/she is as they blog anonymously – which adds to the fun. But I do know that the Garden Monkey police are on his tail and are digging around to try and find out who she/he really is; slowly, slowly catchee Monkey! Lots of names have been put forward – including mine; how I wish…! And, of course, there are lots of people trying to copy the Monkey, but none so far have come anywhere close.

If you’ve not looked at the blog then I can thoroughly recommend you go now. Now hopefully that will keep the doubters off my back and promote me to a friend of the Monkey so he doesn’t ‘talk’ about me. One thought: there is an English idiom “Speak to the organ grinder not the monkey”, so who pulls the Garden Monkey’s strings?

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Where has the year gone?

Is it really the middle of autumn already? Judging by the first frost last night I guess it must be. Maybe it’s my age. But this year has just shot past and I’m already getting ready for the winter onslaught.

I’ve spent the last few days starting to put the garden to bed for the winter. I’ve started digging up all the half-hardy bedding plants, potting them up individually and putting them in the greenhouse. What was full of tomatoes, peppers and aubergines is now rammed to the gunnels with bedding, tender bulbs, succulents that can’t take winter wet and just about everything else that needs protection. I’ve still got the dahlias, cannas, hedychiums and colocassias to find some room for.

On Gardening Plus on BBC Essex on Saturday, we were inundated with calls, e-mails and texts from people who are all still keen on getting the best from their gardens and desperate for some timely advice. Whether it’s because they want to talk to a human being or whether they’re yet to discover the wonders of the internet I’m not sure, but there still seems to be a place for the ‘old fashioned’ means of information gathering.

Gardening clubs also look like they’re holding their own in the massive tide of new technology. Although, sadly, it seems that it’s the older gardeners who still attend their local club regularly – there aren’t that many where I turn up to give talks that have a good representation by younger (that is under-50!) gardeners. Again, I think it’s having human interaction and having a real place to gather socially that keeps them going; even social networking sites, forums and blogs and other recent web developments can’t offer that – not yet anyway!

So, although I’m firmly in favour of the joys of virtual gardening, let’s hear it for the old technology and the great British tradition of gardening clubs, magazines and local radio stations.