Opinion: Why I hate Gardening
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There's another survey out saying that gardening is good for the body, mind and soul – this time, it claims that young people benefit from gardening as opposed to, for example, binge drinking, smoking and fighting which are significantly not as good for their bodies, minds and souls.
I hate gardening. It is dull, relentless, repetitive and you get soil under your fingernails. While I realise that admitting you don't like gardening is about as cool as announcing you belong to a seal clubbing club, I can't pretend that I like it: if I want to see verdant green beauty, I'll go round the corner to Plantation Garden, otherwise, I'll take concrete, paving stones and gravel, please.
I am about to move into a lovely new house in Norwich's own glittering golden triangle and, as is par for the course in NR2, the garden is the size of a postage stamp.
The estate agent that was selling the house (who for some reason initially said to me: 'I know you don't want it. I can tell') tried to up-sell the garden: 'It's a sun trap!' he said, 'you could really dress it up with some pots and some flower beds!'
I, however, looked at it with the gleeful eyes of someone who would soon own a house with possibly the lowest-maintenance garden in Norwich.
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There's no grass, there's no earth, no rickety shreds of decrepit fencing, no spooky sheds infested with spiders, just lovely white paving stones and lovely white walls like a sunny courtyard in the Mediterranean, albeit in Norwich, so generally without the sun.
There are a few pots lurking around the perimeter with dying specimens in them, but they can be disposed of. Soon, all life will be extinguished and the garden will be a temple of serenity – my garden will be the anti-garden. I can't wait.
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I realise that the vast majority of you reading love to garden. For you, I present the reasons why I don't. Feel free to judge me – but bear in mind that when you're wrestling slugs (see point 5), I am drinking cocktails. Who is winning here?
Reasons why I hate gardening:
1) Dress it up how you will, gardening is soul-crushingly boring and repetitive AND IT NEVER ENDS. If I clean the house, it looks clean. If I weed the garden it still looks like the Somme in the winter of 1916.
2) Gardening has become like some kind of sinister middle-class litmus test for being a worthy member of the community. Not only do most of the people I know have a garden in which they garden, they also have allotments in which they are gardening in an extra garden. They are taking gardening TO THE MAX. Admitting that you hate gardening is akin to saying you buy your 12-year-old cigarettes at the shop and are considering setting up your own foie gras production line in front of an infant school playground.
3) I hate the feeling of soil under my fingernails.
4) Gardening is all about holding back a relentless tide of decay. I have enough on my plate trying to hold back the relentless tide of decay that is the ageing process, let alone waging war against a revolting universe of disease and pestilence in my garden. Really, gardens are like a cold and wet metaphor for our inevitable demise – they grow, they bloom, they die. Only I could look at a beautiful garden and see within it the end of my days.
5) I am repulsed by slugs and slugs are synonymous with gardens. Slugs are a broad, muscular foot topped with a gut and a mouth that works like a miniature chainsaw, their eyes are on stalks and they ooze a soft, slippery mucus which helps them move along the ground via wavelike contractions – Doctor Who is yet to create anything as monstrous. Their love life is even more jaw-dropping. I do not want to be gardening alongside such bestial depravity.
6) The only vegetable I have ever grown successfully is cress. On this note – do not try this at home – I once sowed cress seeds into a bathroom carpet of a hideously damp house I had rented in Liverpool to prove a point to a landlord who had resolutely refused to take any measures to prevent fungus from encroaching on the walls. The cress was bountiful, although no one was keen to harvest it for sandwiches due to its proximity to a toilet used by drunken male occupants.
7) I can't even keep supermarket herbs in plastic pots alive. I can murder cacti in a matter of weeks. Living things wither in my presence. I do know how to keep cut flowers looking fresh for a week or so, but they are already dead, so they don't count. Any plant that I have ever tried to tend has swiftly disintegrated into a blackened, slimy mess. I do not have green-fingers, I have The Fingers of Plant-Doom. I probably sweat weedkiller.
8) My Mum likes gardening. If I did any gardening it would be depriving her of coming round to my house and doing it for me.
On another note, I mentioned to my soon-to-be-16-year-old that she could benefit from a spot of gardening – her hollow laughter is still ringing in my ears.