There are some things – fashion, crafts, cake decorating – that should really be left to the people who do them well.
I’m going to add gardening to that list. My politics may be green, but my fingers most certainly are not.
Don’t get me wrong. I like to sit in the garden at the end of the day, glass of wine in hand, letting the last rays of the sun ease some warmth into my shoulders. I like to watch DorkySon potter around out there, rubbing lavender or mint or thyme between his plump little fingers, putting them to his face, and inhaling deeply. I like the sweet hum of the bees; the soft beat of butterfly wings, and the way Mr Blackbird watches with one beady eye as I walk to collect the mail. I even like the tiny little skinks that dart out from the cracks in our wall.
But all the work? The nitty gritty business of gardening required to sustain all that life? It doesn’t come naturally to me.
Digging in the dirt, soil under fingernails, watching earwigs wriggle. Lugging around huge bags of compost that always, always, seem to split and leave trails of damp, dark matter across the recently swept deck. The endless pondering of sunny spots and shady corners, fertiliser, drainage, raking, weeding… trimming this and pruning that.
Gosh. It’s all so much effort.
But needs must. DorkyDad is away on a work trip and I have been left in charge. Tasked with the job of getting our garden through this week. From the penstemon to the adenanthos, from the lemon tree to the fuchsia to the bleeding heart vine; there are no casualties allowed.
The morning begins with sweat and curses as I faff around at the tap with connections and contraptions, none of which I can seem to fit properly. I haul that heavy bastard of a hose down the three tiers of our garden, temporarily blinded as the poorly-fitted attachment bursts off and I take a full stream of water to the eyes. I stumble over a stack of surplus paving stones and catch my shin on a sharp edge. As I lean against a tree in pain, a group of schoolgirls pass the gate and look at my soaking, mud-spattered figure with an expression of horror.
I am doing my best in this new role; the unwilling waterer of plants. But in truth I feel like some hapless Hugh Grant character, completely unprepared for the task at hand.
This week, for perhaps the first time ever, I am praying for rain.