07 March 2008

spring and autumn planning event

I once had a job in finance where part of annual budget cycle included what we called spring and autumn planning events. Apart from our resident poet (more of him another day), it was the nearest to poetry we got. (Now I think of it, I also worked once with a spreadsheet designer who wrote for Amateur Gardener as an expert on delphiniums under a suitably imaginative earthy pseudonym.)

All of that management training has stood me in good stead. The good plot holder has the competence of the most skilled project manager, thinking not only about what to sow in spring, but what follows on afterwards and where it has to go; what needs sun and what can be sown in the shade of taller plants; what will be in and out quickly and what will stay; what the risks of frost are against the potential benefits of planting early. It's all in the planning. I've noticed, for example, that our next door neighbour has a vine which, while looking spartan in winter, will soon spread and grow to create a shady corridor on one side of our plot which will suit quick growing lettuces but be hopeless for courgettes. And that we can use our beans to create at least some privacy from passing wheelbarrow convoys.

We have just sown our selection of sunflowers this year, all shapes, all sizes. I know that they are not a particularly sophisticated choice, but I insist on growing them. They are simple, the sort of flower a child would draw. They look good on allotments and they make good cutting flowers to bring home. I am especially fond of the rich amber and dark velvet of the more modern types, hinting at the arrival of autumn (see, we have not even had spring yet and I'm thinking about autumn).


After great consideration (it was a toss between them and the dahlias) , we finally decided to cram as many as we could into the soon-to-be bed at the front of the shed. If we are lucky, we will have a gaudy garden full. And later on we can check to see, courtesy of our artist in residence, how successful our planning event has been.


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