It was my birthday this month, and I decided to do something a bit different. For a while, and especially since my friend Polly's post about gardening, I have been wanting to start growing vegetables. However, the space in my garden where I would do so was cluttered with awkward to remove plants, like mint, which had overtaken most of the patch. J. and I between us felt overwhelmed by the task of dealing with it.
So, as my birthday treat, I invited my family to a 'gardening day'. Between us, we dug up all the mint. (I'm afraid that I lacked the bodily strength to do much of the actual digging, which was largely done by the male members of the party.) We also cleared some large shrubs, my father pruned many bushes and trees, and we stuffed bags full of the resulting rubbish.
In between our labours, as it was a gorgeous day, we dragged the dining table out into the garden - we have no substantial garden furniture - and had lunch there; my mother and sister had made goats cheese and tomato tart, roast chicken and salad, with meringues and chocolate ganache to follow. Heavenly. The table was decorated with a bunch of flowers J. picked from our garden, and some my parents had brought from theirs.
I had asked for no presents this year, partly as I was asking for help in the garden instead. I did get some lovely presents, though: some books, a pair of fuschia gloves and a purple 'moc croc' wallet that I had bought on holiday and given to J to wrap up, and managed to forget about quite successfully in the meantime, some perfume.
My favourite present, though, was one my father made for me. Following the gardening theme of the day, it was a set of seed markers, made of wood and painted in delicate greens, greys and blue. The paints were testers left over from when my parents painted their house. I cannot think when I was last given a home-made present, and I absolutely loved it.
By the end of the day, we had sowed rows of lettuce, radishes, Swiss chard, and a pot full of rocket. The rocket and chard at least are looking promising at the time of writing, although the other seedlings seem to have suffered after a bout of torrential rain earlier in the week. I am definitely inspired to keep going, though.