I love the weekly Gardener’s Question Time show on BBC radio, and this afternoon’s episode was made extra memorable by an older man asking how “to get my gardening-mad wife to come inside and make my dinner.” Putting the eye-watering sexism aside, it truly is difficult to be the gardener and the chief cooker of meals in a family — especially with young kids who need to eat early, as those few golden afternoon hours are just the time you need to be cooking.
I had to do some serious garden-kitchen multitasking yesterday to finish a major job, relocating and replanting sidalcea, lavender, helianthemum, stachys, alchemilla conjuncta, osmanthus davidii, and a rose that I’m giving one last chance before I trash it. Thank God for roast chicken. If I leave it uncovered and have enough water at the bottom, I can get on with jobs and only run back inside once to baste it. The lowest maintenance “proper” meal I’ve managed is roasted lamb chops with baked potatoes, since it all cooks together in a hot oven. But I need more options! Not easy when catering for a sauce-phobic four-year-old and a three-year-old hater of mashed potatoes. A Canadian friend says the only way she keeps her household together is by menu planning. I’m starting to see why.
One of the last and dirtiest jobs yesterday was moving the rose — a David Austin William Shakespeare 2000. I’m so glad I did, because I realised how miserable it was in the border. Stones had stopped its taproot, which had curled back up into the base of the plant. It had some good fibrous roots, and I root-pruned it to encourage more of these, as its new home is in a half whiskey barrel. Robert Mattock Roses has more advice on root pruning here and here for anyone wanting to grow the English roses in pots.