can be triggered by many things, places, a piece of music, a particular
dish, a smell or even a word. The word ‘soporific’
takes me way back to my childhood, strange really because soporific
is not a word that a child would normally use but it reminds me
of Mr McGregor’s garden and Peter Rabbit’s habit of
sneaking in and feasting on his succulent lettuce plants. After
a rather enthusiastic gastronomic indulgence Peter Rabbit became
soporific and had a post prandial nap which proved to be an opportunity
for Mr McGregor. Don’t fret, he escaped. Soporific, I thought,
was a rather good word to tuck into my brain and indeed so many
years later I quite regularly feel its effects.
Yesterday I was walking in some woods and the sides of the path
were covered in ramsons, that prolific wild garlic plant which
throws out a very distinctive and heady aroma once it is in flower.
That aroma takes me back to my childhood in Anglesey and a path
to one of my father’s churches at Llaneugrad, that was lined
with ramsons. It happens every time.
Last November I took delivery of some apple trees, 20 of them
in fact and I planted them in rows and tied them to bamboo canes
wired on supports at a 45 degree angle. About three weeks ago
the leaves started appearing on one, then another and another,
by now all but one is well in leaf and I can tell you with excitement
that one is actually in bud and displaying signs of an emerging
pink flower. But for the next four years I shall have to control
myself to be happy to enjoy the flowers, I must make sure they
don’t fruit so the root system has time to develop.
This is going to be difficult because my enthusiasm for gardening
is governed by an ulterior motive of providing food, last summer
I removed virtually everything from the flower borders and now
apart from a few primroses and an Acer bush which is on borrowed
time I only have plants that produce food.
Although I have 20 apple trees my garden is not large, the trees
are cordon trained so fruit will be produced close to the stem
which will be stopped at 6 foot. In four years time I shall have
a stall on the pavement outside the house.
My father was a very keen gardener who also preferred fruit and
vegetables to flowers and was an active gardener right to the
end, he was 98 when he died. The rectory that we lived in in Anglesey
had a large vegetable garden and Dad spent a great deal of time
in it, he had to really because his stipend was very low, and
he was paid three months in arrears which must have been crippling.
Seeing the bud beginning to break into flower reminded me of Dad
and Anglesey and what must have been his struggle for our survival.
I remember that a farmer close by had given him three rows in
his potato field, but why? And were we planting the potatoes or
were we harvesting, or am I remembering it incorrectly and it
was simply that he had organised some part time work for us all
in order to help with the finance? It is a mystery and will have
to remain so.
The outhouses were two stables, a throwback to the time when the
clergy were more affluent and I remember the floor of one being
concreted and the arrival of a dozen pigs, after they went to
market the second stable had the floor concreted and soon there
were two lots of pigs squealing away. But where did the money
come from to do the concreting and to buy the pigs – and
how did he know what to do? I do recall a young man called, appropriately,
David Farmer who occasionally gave him a hand, perhaps it was
a joint venture. Dad supplying the premises and David the expertise.
Come to think of it we had a hundred laying hens too. I feel the
need to ask Dad questions, but I can’t. Never mind, as long
as I carry on growing things I can eat, he will always be around.
And isn’t it good that there are simple triggers in life
that cause you to reminisce!