The very first gardening column in the Reading Evening Post written by me was published on November 2 , 2001 – and this is the last.
The column has evolved over the years.
I started out by writing out about other people in horticulture, but as time wore on it became a column largely about my own gardening failures.
My successes were celebrated – but failure is ever-present in gardening and it never pays to be too smug.
Successfully raised seedlings so often succumb to slugs as soon as they are put in the ground.
A perfectly sown seedbed is reduced to ruin by a visit from one neighbourhood cat.
Too much rain or too little rain can kill favourite shrubs and perennials.
A hard frost will wipe out an unprotected exotic – but no frost at all can lead to excessive pest damage the following year.
We gardeners battle with so many foreseeable and unforeseeable enemies and lose more often than we win – especially if we attempt to try to stay true to the organic tradition.
The first-ever gardening column was about pansies and a nurseryman in Goring Heath who said it was next-to impossible for amateur growers to germinate autumn flowering pansies from seed because of the poor germination rate.
He said plugs were the answer for the nurseryman and for the amateur grower – just buy pansies from the garden centre.
Winter flowering pansies are rewarding if you give them what they like – they don’t like hot and they don’t like wet.
They like a free draining compost and cold crisp sunny winter days.
If you feed them they should go on looking good for a year.
That was a November column and so is this one, so the information is as timely now as it was then.
Gardening is cyclical and goes on and on forever. Local newspapers – it seems – do not.
It has always been said that today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s chip paper.
Newsprint is also useful in compost heaps and in the bottom of the runner bean trench.