Growing up in a 1970’s village in Hampshire, I remember the death and disposal of the last Elm tree.
It had fought for root room with the Chinese crab apples at the iron fence of my primary school. Despite advice from the most respectable of sources, I got sick eating those crab apples, they were my first forages.
Later that week, I ate the easy combination of small new potatoes and the kind of hard, brutally tasty and fragrant mint that English gardens were good at. Both came from my uncle Bill’s and aunty Phil’s religiously hard work.
Since then, I have eaten and been drunk both expensively and cheaply in a variety of high and low class establishments all over the world. I have done, said, quaffed and ingested many stupid things in Seattle, Sydney, Singapore and Skipton.
Most stupid of all, I now realise, is my rejection of Phil and Bill’s grow-and-find-your own ethic created by post-World War II working necessity. They had a council house garden and they bloody well used it.
Myself and Dr-Partner as I call her to save her blushes, finally now have our own garden; a beautiful York mess. We’re blitzing it with tarp and sweat in time for next year’s growing season. But I am growing the kind of mint that fills a room before entering it… like Aunty Phil actually, tiny woman, immensely loud and constantly so. Loved to grow her sage and marrow. Oh, we’re planting a crab apple tree in August.