Saturday, 7 February 2009
Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner ?
Since VP suggested brightening up February by having a dinner party tonight I have been busy planning, shopping and cleaning. The house is sparkling in anticipation of my visitors who will be arriving this evening. In keeping with the cold weather I think that we will be eating something hale and hearty tonight, possibly a stew, maybe a regional speciality 'Scouse'. I am still thinking about the second course. I have a feeling that at least one of my guests is a vegetarian so I will be making an alternative. Himself has agreed to serve at the table so that I do not have miss one syllable of the scintillating conversation. He is just busy sorting out the wine at present …..........
Oh how tantalising the idea of being able to invite any gardener or nature lover past or present to come to dinner and how difficult to decide. To make matters more simple for me I opted for gardeners of the present.
My first guest is Beth Chatto who will not need any introduction to fellow plant lovers. I have read and treasured her books especially her ' The Garden Notebook' and 'The Green Tapestry', the latter inspiring my choice of name for this blog. I have also been fortunate to visit her garden at Elmstead Market on a very warm day in August a good few years ago now, but the images, sounds and scents are still vivid. I was stunned. I would love to talk to her about plant associations and about her many gardening friends including the artist
Cedric Morris and Christopher Lloyd.
Second on my guest list in Cleve West, garden designer, Chelsea gold medalist and allotmenteer. A couple of years ago I spent a weekend with a dear friend who lives in Hampshire. As a very special treat we attended a days course at West Dean House, where he was one of the guest speakers. Cleve's lecture that day was not on the subject that he is more well known for, but on his allotment which is a huge passion in his life. I would love to be able to pick his brain on vegetable and fruit growing, and to ask him more questions about how he constructed his compost bin which was not only utilitarian, but also most pleasing to the eye. Cleve himself is most pleasing to the eye so that is another reason for having him sitting just opposite me at the dinner table.
Number three is a down to earth Lancashire lass, a plantswoman, writer and television presenter Carol Klein. Carol always appears so bubbly and enthusiastic that I am sure that she would inspire even the most reluctant person into growing and gardening. I think of Carol as the queen of propagation and would relish the opportunity to quiz her on this topic.
Now I know that VP said that we had to restrict ourselves to 3-5 guests but I am doing a bit of creative thinking here. I hope that I can get away with it. My fourth guest is my parents – they come as a job lot:) Both into their eighties now they are the folk who inspired a love of plants and gardening in me. They planted the deep pink climbing rose and the honeysuckle, that we could smell from our bedroom window on the warm summer evenings of our childhood. They are both struggling with health problems now but still get great enjoyment from their garden. My mum has to use a walking frame, yet shows great tenacity and determination to plant and tend to her alpine bed full of her treasures. She shuffles on her derriere to get to where she wants to be and I am full of admiration. My mum is Italian and came to England in her twenties. She still misses the warmth of Roman summers. She misses being able to pick and eat apricots from the garden. She loves and cherishes the flowers of her youth including cyclamen and wild violets. She is also has a magical touch with houseplants including African violets and orchids. I just have to look at such plants from fifty yards away and they wither. Maybe she will tell me what her secret is.
My dad is the fifth child of a Fens farmer so he grew up on the land. He would have been happy to have stayed in that environment or in forestry but it was not to be. Dad is never happier than when he is outside, whether it is pottering in the greenhouse, pruning his beloved apple trees or just sitting on the garden bench in the shade on a sunny afternoon. As a younger man he grew a lot of fruit and vegetables, both in the garden and at an allotment where he could escape to for the odd couple of hours peace and contemplation. From my dad I would like to find out the secret to creating a near perfect lawn.
Having lived a good distance away from my parents all my adult life any dinner shared with then is to be treasured.
Last but not least I would like to invite VP to complete my guest list. Although we have not yet met I feel that she has a most lively, inquisitive, has a great sense of humour and that she holds plants and the natural world close to her heart. I am sure that she would be a joy to have as a dinner companion.
As long as my guests can make it through the snow, we should be in for some good food, great conversation and hopefully much laughter well into the small hours of the morning. I am just so relieved though that it is too dark to take them for a walk round my garden !
Now, that you have read this do go and find out who other garden bloggers are entertaining here at Veg Plotting.