In search of the hunter-gatherer-weeder-pruner within

We now think that gardening goes all the way back to our nomad forefathers

GARDENERS ARE getting everywhere these days. Always on TV. Always writing books about tulips. Even writing novels about Mr McGregor. Gardening is the new cooking, someone said the other day. But today's column on "What to do in the garden in May" is different.

It's not written by a gardener at all.

Gardeners are being allowed nowhere near it.

No - today's garden feature has been written by a chartered accountant, a historian, a poet, a psychologist, a...

But you'll get the idea as we go along. Right, here we go then with our new-style "What to do in the garden in May"...

Hello, there! writes our fashion expert, Imogen Cascara. And the good news is that pinks, yellows and blues are all back in again! Yes, brown and black have been the dominant colours during the winter, and very stylish they have been too, but the word coming out of the great garden fashion houses (Bisley, Givenchy, etc) is that brown is at last disgustingly passe and it's all right to splash out on irises, lupins, delphiniums and the good old-fashioned look! So let's go mad in the garden this summer!

"Let's go mad in the garden this summer," writes Dr Vernon Haslet, our consultant psychologist, is not the sort of advice I, as a psychologist, like to hear people being given. For one thing, we psychologists don't like to use the word "mad" any more. We prefer to say "barking" or "off his trolley". For another thing, gardens are the last place you will find madness. Gardens are a truly soothing and calming place - unless, of course, you are doing the gardening! Even then we have to be careful to distinguish between people who do their own gardening, and professional gardeners who, surveys now show, tend to be more restful and serene than owner-gardeners, and perhaps have been since records began...

Since records began there have been accounts of humans loving to garden, writes Norman Gissing, our gardening historian, and we now think that gardening goes back way beyond that to our nomad forefathers. Hunter-gatherers, we conventionally call them. Perhaps hunter-gatherer-weeder-pruner-trimmers might be nearer the mark, as we now have ample evidence that herbs were grown round the entrance to many a primeval cave, and that while the men were busy indoors putting up cave paintings, the women were tending the cave garden. Direct evidence is thin on the ground...

Direct evidence is thin on the ground, writes archaeologist Ralph Kibbins, but under the ground is quite another matter. Even in the meanest suburban garden a fascinating treasure trove of objects is waiting to be dug up, so my advice would be to give all those flowers the old heave-ho, and turn your garden into an archaeological dig. Bones, pottery, metal remains, old brass lamps waiting to be given a rub - who knows what is waiting to greet you from another age? And, of course, nobody goes into archaeology to make a profit, but there may be money in it too...

There may be money in it too, agrees Samuel Penfold, our property specialist, especially if you have the sort of garden that could easily be built upon. Of course, it's perfectly possible that you don't want to have executive- style houses in your garden. Then here's another idea! Americans are always mad keen to own a little bit of old England, and there are always some of them keen enough - and mad enough - to buy a plot one metre square which they can call their own! Does selling your garden to Americans in one-metre plots strike you as a crazy idea? You won't think so when the dirty deed is done, and the shekels are counted in...!

When the dirty deed is done

And the shekels counted in

writes our resident poet, Hamish Chatterling

You can sit there in the sun

Sipping at your evening gin!

Gardens are not all hard graft,

Hoein', diggin', weedin',

Even Adam sang and laughed

After hours in Eden...

The birds prefer to sing

all day,

All flowers are born lazy.

If I weren't me, well,

then OK

- I'd rather be a daisy.

So fill your mind with poetry

And many a flowery notion.

One day, with luck, you may become

Another Andrew Motion.

To be continued some other time

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Summer nights: ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’
TVBut what do we Brits really know about them?
Arts and Entertainment
Dr Michael Mosley is a game presenter

TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

    A nap a day could save your life

    A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
    If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

    If men are so obsessed by sex...

    ...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

    Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

    The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
    The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

    Rolling in the deep

    The bathing machine is back but with a difference
    Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

    Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

    Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory