Beauty, Gardening, Home Improvement, Life, Quote of the Day

“Grow, you buggers, Grow!”

Few English actors have radiated imperiousness upon command (see what I did there) better than did the late Glenda Jackson.

Nevertheless, I found myself charmed by a revelation, in a recent Daily Mail column** written by her son, the journalist Dan Hodges, that Jackson struggled as a gardener, even amongst the flowers that she loved.

To wit, his recollection that she said, “in her own unique way” :

I was told you have to talk to flowers. So I shout at them: “Grow, you buggers, grow!”

I’ve loved Glenda Jackson as an actor since I first discovered her in Masterpiece Theatre’s presentation of the BBC series Elizabeth R, in 1971.  Glory be, Gloriana.  I was in high school.  And I was enchanted.  The imperious woman?  She was unparalleled.  In subsequent years she did drama, comedies, screen, stage, television… she could do anything.

And so, I concluded, could I.

Thank you, Glenda Jackson, for inspiring me.  As you did so many others.

Her politics?  Well, I didn’t admire them quite so much.  She was an inveterate Lefty.  But she never dictated her socialist leanings from her magnificent estates all over the world (because, really: There were none.)  She never flew–privately–between and among them (because, once again, ICYMI–must I repeat–There were none), whilst lecturing the rest of us on our deficiencies. She simply got on with the job.  Such a Muffett family thing.


In fact, Jackson never moved away from the rather modest London area in which she spent most of her adult life, and–after abandoning her wildly successful entertainment career–for over two decades, she devoted herself, quietly and in her entirety, to her role as the elected Labour Member of Parliament for Hampstead, Highgate, and Kilburn from 1992 until 2015.

Then, at the age of 79, she retired from politics, and went back to acting.

God bless, dear lady with more than A Touch of Class.  Rest in peace.

Back to gardening.

I’ve had a black thumb all my life.  I’d never thought that I could have an actual garden, one in which I could step outside the house in the morning and be overwhelmed by the scent of flowers.

But–finally–it happened.

After much shouting, backbreaking labor, refinement, socialization, and help, the buggers have grown.  I walked out the West door of the house this morning into the driveway, and I was overwhelmed by the scent of roses and other flowers:

Thank you all.  You’ve who’ve educated me.  You who’ve provided the raw materials.

And, especially you who’ve inspired me and kept me going.

Gardening is sometimes regarded as a solitary pursuit.  But despite the very pleasant hours I spend every day in contemplation and alone, it hasn’t proven so much that for me.  And perhaps–if you are so inclined–it’s not destined to be that for you either.

Some years ago, I discovered the pleasures of a wonderful garden center, not far away, full of folks who know what they’re talking about, and who have wonderful plants. both native and non-native, that I can’t get anywhere else.  And, if I really want something, and even if they don’t stock it–if they think it will grow in this area–they’ll find it for me and make it happen.

Along the way I also found–after a couple of misfires and duds–local resources for tree pruning and landscaping.  Men and women worth their weight in gold.

But those resources would be nothing without my friends–those locals who invite me on shopping expeditions and who stop by offering encouragement, advice, and the occasional home-grown plant, and those–remote and virtual–who cheer me on in my sometimes wild and–sometimes–seemingly lunatic ideas.

Chief among the latter is my dear friend Andrea who died last year.  Lord, I miss her.  The last few years of her life we did–between us–so much monetary damage at the lovely local garden center that I don’t see how they can-financially–survive her loss.

She made clear to me before she died (after a very long illness) that I should have first dibs on her garden.  And so I made the trek on more than one occasion and removed a modest supply of bulbs and plants.  She’ll live in my own garden forever and be on-board for the tale as long as I have anything to do with it, right?

Here’s a three-step platform I built out of scraps for this year’s herb pots:

I greatly admire the expansive gardens and endless vistas that some have developed.  My own efforts have been rather more limited.  There are 30 acres here.  And I have regularly despaired, year upon year, about those acres. So, for the past few (years, as well as acres) I’ve called upon assistance from local fencing and landscaping experts to try and rein some of it in.  What we’ve come up with is about half-an acre of land which–because I still have expansive and perhaps unreasonable ideas about my own capabilities–I’m willing to try to manage via fencing, irregular mowing, building, and gentle control.

Somewhere along the day, I thought I’d focus on perennials, shrubs, and trees.

Anyone who’s fallen for the “PERENNIAL:  PLANT IT ONCE, ENJOY IT FOR A LIFETIME!” story has, at some point discovered what absolute nonsense this is.  There isn’t a single “bloody thing” (as Jordan Peterson might say) that grows by itself, without annual care.  Still, I’ve tried to take the long view, and–by and large, and with some intermittent work–it’s starting to pay off.

Thank you, Glenda Jackson, for inspiring me.

Then, now, and always.

**Unfortunately, Hodges’s remarks about his mother were made in an otherwise heartrending, not to say infuriating, Daily Mail column about the inadequacies of Britain’s National Health Service and how it failed her in her last months.  I’ve been there.  On more than one occasion.  So very sad.

2 thoughts on ““Grow, you buggers, Grow!””

  1. Thanks for this. What I think is unquestionable is that spending time cultivating plants enhances our quality of life in immeasurable ways 🙂

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