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The apple falls not far from the tree | Gardening advice

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Every year, Kala’s nasturtiums invade her neighbours’ gardens. Every year, we sow more. It’s not as if we don’t know they will self-seed for eternity. It’s an addiction I fear I have passed on to my daughter. Sometimes, wWith some gardening, enough may never be enough.

I have written before about how it was this greedy, pretty, gaudy flower that kindled my connection with growing. With Kala, of course, it is different. For her it’s about nasturtiums’ almost scary efficiency. The smothering ground cover, edging on invasion. The way the vines loop over its opposition as if throwing climbing ropes. An all-conquering flowering army. Bringing beauty.

As I watch out of my kitchen window, I can see they have already spread out over both sides and back. Sprawling gardening without walls. And of course there are similarities in style with Kala’s gardening and mine. An exuberant ill-discipline. A need for wild expression.

Her space, though, is very much her own. There are always cosmos, asters and zinnias in primary colours. Cornflowers, cerinthe, rudbeckia and other daisy styles too. Fragrant jasmines, climbing ruffled roses in deep pinks. Grass, of course, to lie on.

We share a passion for sunflowers. I almost count the inches as hers grow, the last spurt towering over her garden walls. The way they face the morning sun.

Kala lives and grows four gardens down. I watch her watering. See her sitting with her morning coffee. When Henri and I were isolating, she left flowers on our step.

We weed and prune and sow together, share sacks of peat-free compost. We visit garden centres. She sends me photographs of any flowers or problems I can’t quite see from here.

I sometimes look out in the morning for when she wakes. We wave. The family gathers for birthday dinners in her garden. Our celebration lives are centred here. Surrounded by shared memories.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com


Every year, Kala’s nasturtiums invade her neighbours’ gardens. Every year, we sow more. It’s not as if we don’t know they will self-seed for eternity. It’s an addiction I fear I have passed on to my daughter. Sometimes, wWith some gardening, enough may never be enough.

I have written before about how it was this greedy, pretty, gaudy flower that kindled my connection with growing. With Kala, of course, it is different. For her it’s about nasturtiums’ almost scary efficiency. The smothering ground cover, edging on invasion. The way the vines loop over its opposition as if throwing climbing ropes. An all-conquering flowering army. Bringing beauty.

As I watch out of my kitchen window, I can see they have already spread out over both sides and back. Sprawling gardening without walls. And of course there are similarities in style with Kala’s gardening and mine. An exuberant ill-discipline. A need for wild expression.

Her space, though, is very much her own. There are always cosmos, asters and zinnias in primary colours. Cornflowers, cerinthe, rudbeckia and other daisy styles too. Fragrant jasmines, climbing ruffled roses in deep pinks. Grass, of course, to lie on.

We share a passion for sunflowers. I almost count the inches as hers grow, the last spurt towering over her garden walls. The way they face the morning sun.

Kala lives and grows four gardens down. I watch her watering. See her sitting with her morning coffee. When Henri and I were isolating, she left flowers on our step.

We weed and prune and sow together, share sacks of peat-free compost. We visit garden centres. She sends me photographs of any flowers or problems I can’t quite see from here.

I sometimes look out in the morning for when she wakes. We wave. The family gathers for birthday dinners in her garden. Our celebration lives are centred here. Surrounded by shared memories.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com

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