Life on Pig Row continues in our absence. The plants grow, the courgettes swell, the tomatoes ripen and the raspberries put on new growth.
This is the way of all gardens when gardeners leave them. At our old garden, Drovers, the undergrowth is burgeoning as are the weeds but plants once cut back have become bullies and there is beauty in their abundance. All gardeners worry about their gardens whilst they are away, imagination runs like a stream as do the nightmares that you will return to a flood of something, rotten tomatoes, marrows instead of courgettes, pests and diseases that have run riot in your absence. Gardeners only tend to go on holiday under duress and only leave in excitement when they are told they are going to a garden show or even better have a chance to see other people's gardens. Notebooks come out, pencils are sharpened and digital cameras are charged. You will find that most garden visitors scribbling and clicking away are themselves gardeners, it is the ultimate bus man's holiday. Whilst walking around the Southport Flower Show you can hear them talking, gardeners who still garden, gardeners who aspire to garden more and gardeners who once tended their plots but through age have just pitched up a deckchair on the lawn and watched it roll back to nature. We all go through these phases, this is the evolution of the gardener that we all start gardening in a pot and in the end we finish gardening in a pot. We go full circle but at all stages we celebrate the beauty, the warmth and the community that is gardening. For when I am old and can no longer wear my trousers rolled I can pass Pig Row onto those who wander garden shows aspiring to bigger gardens, bigger plants, bigger ideas. Gardens never stand still, they always grow and they are always driven by people who loved gardens. That is why on this break from Pig Row I have been delighted to be a guest at Southport Flower Show, talking with other gardeners, stall holders and growers. I've been able to sit in on talks and listen to people like Sue Beesley, Peter Holden and David Bellamy talking about their gardens and their delight in gardening. I've shuffled around the show ground, Little D in tow, delighted with all the food available to try and even more delighted in the flower displays that he tried to grab (one disaster narrowly avoided in the flower marquee as wandering little hands tried to make away with several pinks). My wife and I have dropped on on new friends, watched knights parade across the show ground, seen ducks droved around the arena and argued over bulbs, seeds and hostas (I am becoming quickly addicted to this plant and I know I could buy them until they filled every bed on Pig Row). We have enjoyed the vintage feel of the show and the drive towards sustainable gardening. More than that we have seen how a garden show can include everyone at all stages and at all ages.