Hurrah! Garden centres, it seems, can open from today. Peace – to use the irritating war analogy so popular these days – will be restored. Our Beloved Leader (OBL) is apparently allowing us to get our hands on some begonias for the herbaceous border at last – a small ray of light in an otherwise still gloomy climate. I can hear a collective sigh of relief wafting up from the English countryside.

GQT… baffling


I’m a townie, me. I love nature, but I don’t really know my begonia from my geranium – perhaps there isn’t a difference? – so I won’t be self-distancing at our local outlet. I’m more of a weed and chop woman myself, although I have to confess to an odd addiction: Gardener’s Question Time (GQT to its many fans.) I don’t have the first idea what they’re on about, of course, but it sounds so passionate, so intense, so… interesting if only I understood a single word.

You wouldn’t believe the hours I spend in research, trawling the RHS website etc for what plants/shrubs/trees to mention, flowering when, in what soil etc, while writing my books – my characters, unlike myself, often being keen gardeners. Luckily my copyeditor is very knowledgeable in this arena and puts me right.

houseplants cyclamen

Cyclamen, or not

I would love to be like them. But honestly, there’s little point in wishing. As soon as me and a houseplant, for instance, gaze into each other’s eyes, the plant quickly loses the will to live. I water it too much or too little, I don’t talk to it or put it in the right place… I have no idea what my shortcomings are, as I’ve tried everything and nothing works.

But one plant, currently residing on the landing windowsill, is still alive. Since Christmas, would you believe? I couldn’t tell you what it is – see photo above – because it doesn’t have any flowers at the moment. I’m thinking cyclamen? It’s not a poinsettia, I do know that. Anyway, it’s not in its first flush, but at least it’s not dead.


For my money, I’d rather OBL had promised hairdressers could open or that I could go round to see my dear family – at a social distance, obvs. But I do take the point that the gardeners – who have already cleared out the bloody greenhouse, divided the perennials and hardened off the dahlias (???) – now yearn for a bedding plant or two. So, gardeners everywhere, I salute you!

More from Hilary’s weekly ramblings