My accidental extravagance at the garden centre…

Read Time:1 Minute, 47 Second

The Guardian

High summer and the rooftop is scattered with new, summery plants. Just the day before, we’d been admiring the quiet terrace, with its rose bushes, lavender, magnolia stellata. Peaceful and calming, I agreed with Henri.

But empty pots were calling. I told myself I’d buy one or two plants to fill some gaps. But I arrived at the garden centre just after their morning deliveries, to masses of summer planting. Shiny trays of colours and happiness.

I’ve loved a good garden centre since I worked at one in my teens. I homed broken plants from the bin and nursed them back to beauty. Planted them down our street. Early guerrilla gardening.

Camden Garden Centre is on my canal walk to work, close to OFM Towers. I sometimes pop in just to have a look. Maybe purchase a few packets of seed, admire shiny secateurs. I will buy a tall orange geum, I thought, perhaps a small lilac, a large deep-red deep-red geranium. If only I’d stopped there.

The plant van came today, and somehow I’d added to my order. Sacks of peat-free compost, more geums, a sky-tall and sky-blue salvia, a large-ish daisy, and maybe my favourite – a deep crimson, dark-leafed digitalis, because nothing says sunny roof terrace like a dappled shade and woodland-loving foxglove.

Henri hasn’t seen them yet. She will be home in a few hours. I have potted and swept and cleared and she will shake her head, frown disapprovingly and move them into another position.

But one early morning or evening she will be out watering, smelling the new lilac, deadheading the geranium, watching the bees buzz the geum. She will stand there, maybe smile, quietly soak it in.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com

July 17, 2022 at 11:22AM Allan Jenkins

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