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My summer of love…

I am no hippie, but this summer is ‘auspicious’ in as much as it’s the 50th anniversary of San Francisco’s infamous and highly controversial “summer of love” in 1967. Why then, if I’m not a ‘disciple’ would I call out such an event? Well – it spawned a movement. If you read the history of San Francisco that year – the ‘hippie-hippie shake up’ was actually quite a damp squib of an affair. Despite that – it spawned a movement and a genre still widely used today (even if on occasions – only for the purposes of levity and ridicule).
In this year – 2017 – half a century on – I’m having my own summer of love. Only this time – it’s with plants. It’s odd – that when you start to run a business based around something you have loved all of your life – you start to become rather cynical about things. Mechanical, detached and remote. So it has been to a degree with myself – until this summer. The old adage; “the engineers’ bike always squeaks”certainly rang true back here at home. I’ve joked on a number of occasions; “who would buy a living plant wall off a guy with a garden like mine”? Except that now – this year – something wonderful has happened. I’ve utterly fallen in love again with the core of what this business is about – the actual plants! I’ve cleared space and rescued desperately choked out specimens from the ravaging thuggery of other invasive species. I’ve re-jigged a polythene tunnel into space for growing rarer types of tomato and green, leafy summer veggies for household consumption. I’ve finally started to actually design-in tiny areas of rough pasture grass so wild species can grown next to small areas of lawn. I’ve re-claimed an overgrown area with just two cheap fence panels and some trellis and transformed it (through the rather bold use of flat matt-black paint and up-lighting) into a real little oasis of restfulness instead of a ghastly weed-choked area of horticultural vomit – thrown up all the way to the front door. But – most of all – I’ve re-kindled my love of all manner of propagation and plant rescue techniques designed to preserve the best of old specimens for future generations to enjoy. This is horticulture, and it’s my very fervent hope that I can use this year to help ‘kick-start’ the plant movement. I’ve visited schools, given talks, and (best of all) started meeting more people interested in making living walls and garden features that their children can take an active part in. Oh …. this is bliss. This may be one of the activities that finally break the small screen stranglehold on children’s imaginations we’ve witnessed for the last two to three decades. I’m expecting that this love affair may steer me into some commercial areas I hadn’t expected (or given up) believing could be part of the mix. I think I’ll just carry on and see what happens…?  Be a bit ‘hippie’ perhaps?

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