I have been putting redcurrants in my porridge. Do not be alarmed, madam. I know what I am doing, in the loose sense of the word “know”, ken?
Yes, it’s that time of year again, when the berries are ripe for picking. From one bush, I get enough redcurrants to last for weeks. Nothing finer than plucking the fruit from the bush and, after a quick rinse, bunging it into the bubbling cauldron of brose.
My garden is turning into a little supermarket, though it has all come about by accident. The flower bed nearest the back of the house is a place of expertly planned chaos, with flowers and fruit bushes jostling for sun and space.
There’s a gooseberry bush. Its season is done, and it yielded tow or three bowls of fruit, which also went into the porridge (along with seeds, raisins, honey and nutmeg). The strawberries provided me with one evening of sybaritic joy as I had lain down on a sunny patch of grass some time ago and by chance noticed the berries brightly beckoning.
This came as a surprise as slugs usually eat the fruit but, this year, for once I had got there before them.
The apple tree doesn’t produce much. It’s supposed to have three different types of apple: inedible, sour and covered in boils. Like many plants in the garden, I don’t suppose it gets enough light, so it is all squint from leaning to catch some rays.
The blueberry bush, first planted last year, has a similar problem, being surrounded by lanky loons stretching verdantly for the heavens. Still, I’m hopeful of a couple of handfuls of the wee blue superfood. And where will these go, ladies and gentlemen? Correct: into the porridge.
If I had my time again, I would set the garden out properly, with fruit and vegetable plots in a separate area. Alas, the garden reflects my mind: a random mess full of birds’ nests and cat poo.
The flower bed at the front of the house is a total disaster, with too many big plants crowding out the smaller efforts. I went back to the garden centre and complained: “You didn’t tell me these would grow.”
I buy garden plants in a manner that can best be described as higgledy and arguably piggledy. Also, being male last time I looked, I have no sense of colour. I love the garden but have to admit I just don’t have green fingers. I look at other people’s lovely lawns and wonder what magic spells they use.
I’m forever bunging down feeds and fertilisers, but the result is to say the least patchy, not helped by a hand-mower that gets stuck every three steps. The hand mower is supposed to reek of a more pastoral age, from “long ago in the quiet of the world”, as St Tolkien put it, but this relative quiet is made up for by my language and cries of frustration.
If I’m lucky enough to get a garden with my next house – though a window box is looking more likely – I shall bring a more disciplined approach to the stressful business of horticulture. And I will most certainly plant a redcurrant bush – probably somewhere in between the beige dahlias and the bright blue roses.