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

Arts and Entertainment
By Seuss! ‘What Pet Shall I Get?’ hits the bookshops this week
Books
Arts and Entertainment
The mushroom cloud over Hiroshima after Enola Gray and her crew dropped the bomb
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Elliott outside his stationery store that houses a Post Office
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Rebecca Ferguson, Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible Rogue Nation

Film review Tom Cruise, 50, is still like a puppy in this relentless action soap opera

Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
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.

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

    Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

    Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'