Growing Groups

Working for the Voluntary Sector in Hastings

Places change

I spent last weekend in Reading, doing some probate stuff, clearing out rubbish that my late Father had accumulated and helping my Mum sort out the blackberry bushes in the garden. If you want to grow briar fruit you have to make sure the new runners are trained in one direction for next years crop, while the 2 year old flowering stems are left to do their thing for this years fruit. I’ve learned that this is a painful process if left too long into the summer.


I’ve had an allotment for years but I’m learning that suburban gardening is very different. It seems to involve a healthy amount of ‘over the garden fence’ conversation with neighbours. For me this generates a slightly hesitant edge, because I’m now catching up with people who I haven’t really seen for about thirty years.


I’m learning to respond to ‘Hello stranger, what have you been up to?’ by reducing the last thirty years to ‘oh this and that and how are you?’ Then, because of the age of most of Mums neighbours, the conventional thing is to exchange some anecdotes about the NHS.


Like most people on their estate Mum and Dad moved in during the 1960s, and together with the rest of the road they all grew old together. Over the years, the original open plan areas of grass between the houses were gradually converted into a forest of overgrown garden centre shrubs and lap larch alley ways. The architects’ were originally inspired by creating a housing scheme with all the roads on one side of the houses and all the paths on the other side. This helped to keep cars away from pedestrians and kept the profits of the construction company up, because they saved one pavement for every row of houses. But over the years the open paths and houses set on individual open plan lawns have given way to fenced off gardens and narrow alleys. So the alleys become abandoned and everyone walks down the roads because they feel safer for pedestrians.


June 4, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment