Its well known [to most] that I used to grow plants under my bed when I was 4 or 5 years old; my first seeds I grew out my back garden with my Pop – radishes; lettuce sets with my Dad; my first bulb [singular] was a hyacinth – one weeks pocket money at the time and she let me off a penny [total bill 11p]! Rhubarb, cooking apples the lot.
The front garden was nothing exciting, now [hindsight]! A skimmia, grisilina hedging and the usual alyssum & lobelia in summertime; not forgetting sunflower seeds of course. Newlands Garden Centre was in the Devitts family back garden then. I’m amazed when I see it now. After all the years of cycling there on my grifter bicycle.
I’m one of 8 children. My Father is a wine merchant all his life – my mother, reared us and worked. Times were tough, at times; but good. I worked hard. We all did. One had to. Friends of mine over the road grew & sold lettuce door to door. It wouldn’t have been possible in my house I suppose.
When eventually the plants were found under my bed, tears were shed, they had to go! That was tough at the time. I found a [Marist] Brother Coleman, who had a glasshouse. I offered my elder in exchange for housing my green friends, assistance in tending the college grounds & some teachings if possible. Deal! He came and collected. I had a mentor. I was 9 years old. He thought me so much & for the love of horticulture that he gave me I will never forget him.
Repairing football pitches, geranium cuttings, interior landscaping, rockeries, tractors et cetera. later then a summer job! 20 pounds a week! I was still working on a sasturday doing my garden round. I think I didn’t have to do the washing up that summer because I was earning a wage/ handing up [some] money. Talk about living the life! I’d sit with my Dad and ask him how business was… how cool! Then I went to that school [sound = screech in the old vinyl].
Gardening was no rock and roll, believe me. Gardening and plants were ‘gay’. It warranted a hiding. The slagging from teachers didn’t help and that usually received a good class chuckle. They bought football stickers. I bought seeds and went to the library. A regular hiding was duly received. Flowers. Pansy. Gay. Donegan. I was so to speak a misfit! When that happens, I suppose the answer is to give it up. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to. I loved what I was doing. I fell out with Bro Coleman for a little. Grades were faltering. The stick was getting greater. But time did heal all wounds.
And so at 17 years old with no grass cutting money saved and no landscaping money in my pocket. I went to college…. [this is me & my sis liz – i’m about 19 here] the only Jackeen [Dubliner] in Kilkenny! Jesus Christ! give me a break for Gods sake. Dustin the Turkey only had a slot on Dempseys Den at the time – A turkey with a Dublin voice?!! But I was in a horticultral college, so the ‘gay’ tag had gone at least. Dustin was so much easier. It didn’t get me down. I think it probably made me stronger. I had had worse. A lot worse.
But when one is passionate about anything in life, like a first girlfriend or a hobby… a passion; it excites you and it feels almost electric. I still feel that about what I do. I am still that passionate. Sometimes I feel like I’m on top of the world. Sometimes I feel a little down. It makes me sad. But loving something, pretty much all you have know since you were a child, can do that. Its allowed. The reason you were isolated. The reason people thanked you. The reason they often cried. It is part of life.
It’s taken me sometime to allow myself publish this – but I was inspired by another blogger and his story. I think some people see a business now, not the man [or the big child]. My wife of one and a half years says I should marry a tree. She came in last night and I had the entire table covered with my crop of parsley! It was 11pm. I still had the rhubarb to go…. I have a bed now thats about one foot high and touches the floor. No plants under ‘this’ bed.
Will I ever grow up? Regarding what I love? Who wants to? Whats fun in that? Is that why I started this journey? When the plants need water and rain on my tongue ceases to excite me …. maybe.