Tuesday, 24 February 2015

A New Breed of Supergardener

I love the winter garden with its skeletal structure and great nostril-loads of scent. On a bright, frosty day what could be better? Actually, quite a lot. The problem is that although I delight in the great outdoors, I absolutely cannot stand being cold. In no particular order, my pet hates are: cold hands, cold feet, and cold hurting ears. It takes me back to hockey at school, only then I had cold blotchy knees to add to my misery.

Luscious Lonicera
I don't like to show off, but these days I am blessed with a fine collection of thermal undergarments, a woolly hat, lined boots and an array of mismatched gloves. Hacking icy flints from the borders and untangling bare-root hedging plants which have knitted themselves together (presumably for warmth), I am an advertisement for wearing everything at once. To put it succinctly: I am a walking wardrobe.

Eranthis hyemalis

This whole business of being so cold that I am barely able to move for all the layers of clothing has got me wondering why gardeners haven’t evolved over time. We have been cultivating our plots for thousands of years and while I appreciate that many gardeners of the past might have inhabited warmer areas of the globe, there must have been a fair few green-fingered pioneers who ventured out on a frosty morning to prod a stick at a patch of cold earth. 

Frosty Phlomis italica

If we were climbing plants, we would by now have adopted aerial roots or adapted our leaves into tendrils, so why have we not developed ever-warm extremities? I think that the answer might lie with the cooks of the world. We have been burning food for longer than we have been cultivating gardens, so where are the chefs' heat-resistant hands and unsliceable fingers? 


Echinops with an ice cap

Cooks' and gardeners' adaptations might be mutually beneficial. I am no chef, but I wouldn't mind having heatproof hands for those occasions when I forget about hot pan handles; and I am sure that chefs could adjust gardeners' adaptations to suit their own purposes (although I'm struggling with adaptation number 8 below). 

Were I a time traveller, I would have a word with our ancestors and ask them to initiate a few improvements so that all gardeners nowadays would be blessed with:

1. Constantly warm hands, feet and ears

2. Thorn-resistant skin

3. An ache-free back

4. The ability to prune with the scissor action of the fingers of both hands, thereby adding hours to the gardening year which might otherwise be lost searching for secateurs 

5. A dripless nose

6. The ability to hover mid-air while pruning, thereby rendering ladders unnecessary

7. A reviving stare which rejuvenates listless plants and makes old seeds viable

8. Toes which double as hoes.

There must be something I’m missing from this list..... what do you mean I need to get out more? It's cold outside.

44 comments:

  1. I'm exactly the same, I hate being cold. One thing I would add to your list would be eyes that didn't cry as soon as the wind blows in them.

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    1. Oh yes - excellent point - and really while we're on the subject of eyes, an extra set of transparent eye-lids to protect us from grit and debris would be very helpful.

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  2. I can not stand being cold either! And tomorrow we are predicted to get two inches of snow. Snow! Rare enough for us that I must get out there and document it, so I could use some of your adaptations.

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    1. You could do with a heated camera. Have you got onto the inventors yet?

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  3. I hate the cold too, and spent approximately 5 minutes outdoors yesterday simply to reassure myself that it is still far too cold for any gardening activity yet! I love the list - especially the hovering as it would be so useful in my rockery!

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    1. It must be almost spring if you managed a whole 5 minutes! Rockery hovering has got me thinking of how much better the soil structure in our borders might be if we were able to hover.

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  4. Love this post, I resemble something like Worzel Gummidge when I'm in the garden or walking the hound. I hate being cold x

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    1. Work that Worzel Gummidge look - you are a style goddess.

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  5. Ha Ha!
    I would add to the list independently adjustable legs, for working on a slope :)

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    1. Ooo very useful. I hadn't thought of that - probably due to the lack of slopes in this part of Norfolk. Adjustable legs would have an excellent cross-over use for stair cleaning/decorating/picture hanging. Good one!

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  6. lol..yes!! to all the above! how ironic that one of my first thoughts this morning was gardening and then I notice your post:) our gardens in southern Ontario, Canada are buried under feet of snow but that does not keep one from planning and dreaming...http://anotherporch.blogspot.ca/2015/02/here-and-now.html

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    1. You must be getting desperate to get outside to garden. Here's hoping the snow is starting to melt and that you will soon be outside enjoying warmer, sunnier days.

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  7. Clever and humorous post! The body has made some adaptations already to some of them, called callous but blame good hand creams that remedy that...

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    1. A gardener without calluses would be unthinkable! And let us not forget that big sun-tanned smile around the lower back.... or is it just me who needs longer tops?

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  8. Sarah how cute is this list .. I am so about the drippless ? nose especially .. how ironic is it to be a gardener who is so allergic ? .. I wear a mask for the first garden clean up of the year routine.
    Thanks for dropping by my blog ... but I shudder to think how ever would you survive temps/wind chill such as -37 here in the great white north ! LOL
    Joy

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    1. I wouldn't survive, Joy. I am pathetic in cold weather. Poor you with your allergies. I have never thought to wear a mask. I get a bit of hay fever on some years. I used to work with another gardener who had hay fever too (much worse than me) - on bad days we were a symphony of sneezes and misery. Very professional! We should have worn masks.

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  9. Thankfully I don't feel the cold quite as much as you Sarah but can see the sense in absolutely everything on your list. Is there any way we could work in a string dispenser ;)

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    1. Oh absolutely - with an automatic cutting mechanism.

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  10. You might look a bit strange once you have been granted all your wishes. Once you have your tough skin, your scissor fingers and your toes which double as hoes, you might decide your are OK as you are!

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    1. Haha! I reckon we would need a whole new clothing range to cover the adaptations - better start designing!

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  11. These flowers above are new for me. I have never seen before.

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  12. the agony of frozen ears, I remember from Swiss days.
    Sign me up for the 'hovering while pruning the neighbour's hedge' please.

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    1. While pruning the neighbours hedge, you'll be able to check out what's growing well in their garden and get a few ideas. I now have a vision of a row of gardens with supergardeners hovering over them and enjoying a bit of garden banter.

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  13. Oh yes, I want that too! An ache free back, I would never stop working. Groetjes, Hetty

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    1. Imagine how much more fabulous our gardens would be if we never stopped working!

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  14. Sarah, You are so funny! You've got me thinking I would love to be able to garden in the full sun without sweating or burning my skin! Also, how about moving faster with age? Happy Gardening!

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    1. Woah - moving faster with age would be BRILLIANT! We could design new greetings cards - "wishing you a speedy retirement".

      Like many gardeners, I spend summer chasing shade, slapping on lakeloads of sun cream and moving way too slowly, so sun-proof/sweat-proof skin would be an excellent and popular adaptation.

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  15. Oh this is perfect! Especially the achy back part...I would love the ability to garden for hours on end. And not to regret it the next day, to be so fit that it's nothing to move large plants, and heavy rocks, build new beds...sigh, yes a super gardener that's what I need to be.

    Loved your comment, we are more alike then I realized.....and I too have a wonderful collection of thermals...and have brand new socks that cost a arm and a leg, but they promise that they will never wear out!! You have no idea how happy that makes me.

    Jen

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    1. I need to get my hands on some of those socks that don't wear out. If they are socks which never lose their pair, all the better!

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  16. Fun list and fun thoughts for a very cold gardening week!

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    1. I hope things warm up for us all very soon!

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  17. I can't stop laughing at the hilarious posting, Sarah! I can add to my list of winter clothing a pair of battery heated gloves my daughter gave me for my birthday. They are brilliant, keeping my fingers really toasty. Of course, I can't garden right now as I live in the Northeast of USA -- close to the record for snow and cold. P. x

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    1. Battery heated gloves? They sound brilliant.
      You have had a tough winter. I hope that the snow is thawing now and you can get outside to garden very soon.

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  18. Yes please, I take them all. With widespread arthritis and a not so well working hip replacement I struggle in the cold too, but it doesn’t stop me from emptying my wardrobe and getting outside either. I use fingerless gloves all the time, as I can’t stand using garden gloves, they are surprisingly good at keeping my hands warm and go in the washing machine when too dirty. I have read about the new type of cut-and-hold secateurs where what you cut off stays on and don’t fall off. That’s on my wish-list! Will save my back a lot of pain I think.

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    1. I shall have to keep an eye out for those secateurs. Self-tidying secateurs? What will they think of next?

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  19. Yes yes yes!! I wear everything at once, too, and could care less what I look like. I just don't want to be cold. I really need to be able to hover. That would make life so much easier. Excellent list. :o)

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  20. Hello Sarah, I find that I pile of the layers just before stepping out, but as I get stuck into digging, carting around bags of compost and general heavy-work, off come the layers until I can be down to a t-shirt. However, I only need to stop for a moment and then I begin to freeze. If I'm disciplined, then I'll get on with the work and warm up again, otherwise it's can on with the layers and add a lovely mug of steaming hot chocolate to boot.

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    1. Now you're talking. Hot chocolate. Lovely. Perhaps I need more hot chocolate and fewer bars of chocolate; or perhaps a happy combination of the two.

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  21. Oh, for an ache-free back! And stronger wrists for all that digging! I do happen to have some extra-evolved (mutant?) people in my family, though. My husband has perpetually warm hands and feet, and my mother-in-law can take things right out of the oven with her bare hands. I'm not sure either of those things are normal, but I am rather envious!

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    1. I am envious too. Aren't they lucky?

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