My square foot

When her peach tree was strangled by a vicious weed, Deborah Ross fought back

I WOULD like, if I may, to discuss something of which I am almost deliriously proud and which, locally, has come to be known as "My One Square Foot of Gardening", mostly because I go about the area saying: "Would you like to come over and see `My One Square Foot of Gardening'? No appointment necessary".

Let me explain. Six years ago, we moved into a house with a 70 foot garden. It was, then, a very nice garden. There was a proper lawn like my mum and dad have, as well as a variety of flowers and shrubs which I came to identify as "the one over there" and "the one next to it". As you've probably gathered, I am not, by nature, a gardener.

Indeed, there always seem to be better things to do, like read OK! or watch Richard and Judy. Consequently, the garden stopped being very nice, or even just nice. The tulips and daffodils stopped happening and long, clinging green things which had obviously got straight As in shrub-throttling school, did their throttling worst. The gooseberry bush and peach tree gave up the will to live. The lawn, host to endless games of rush goalie, decided it would be better off as mud.

Then, about two weekends ago, I got down to it. I don't know what possessed me. I can only think that, at a certain age, a gardening hormone kicks in. I cleared my "One Square Foot". It took two days. Two days! Incredibly dense growth, yes, but also considerable excavation work that, ultimately, yielded two Power Rangers (Kimberley and Zac), a teaspoon, half a sandal, a kiddie beaker, a car key and, most happily, Action Man's missing leg.

Once cleared, it was off to The Garden Centre. The Garden Centre! A terrifying world of perennials and annuals and hardy annuals and bi-annuals and hardy bi-annual perennials. In the end, I opted for herbs - coriander, rosemary, oregano, chives. This is bizarre, to say the least, as we are very much a boil-in-the-bag family, unless the bag bursts, in which case we are a very watery soup family.

Still, they are planted now and, as I've said, I'm deliriously proud. I can stand there, just looking at them for considerable periods of time, while trying to work out if the rosemary has grown another blue bud since yesterday.

Anyway, anyone who comes to the house now has to have a tour of "My One Square Foot of Gardening". It is compulsory. "You must see `My One Square Foot of Gardening' ", I say. "It doesn't take long. Only a minute, if I stretch it out. But don't touch! And after, you'll have to join the end of the queue again, because otherwise it's not fair on others."

Strangely, we don't seem to have as many visitors as we used to. Still, only another 69 feet to go.

One Square Foot of Gardening Ltd. Tour details: daily, unless I can't be bothered. Cost: any expensive gift for the gardener will do. Booking: book early or, to avoid disappointment, not at all.

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