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Useful And Fantastic: My Life As A Garden

Val Yule muses on her life spent in gardens.

During Wordl-War 2, 10-year-old Val went digging up for Victory everything she could, including the driveway, to grow horrible but growable things like turnips and broad beans, and also to raise seeds, which she then sold to long-suffering relatives to raise funds for Red Cross.

Her gardening career since then has spanned the world. In Aberdeen she grew snap-frozen broccoli and roses - in winter, shake the snow off the snowmen and pick what you wanted from underneath. She had a greenhouse in the backyard, but was not grateful when a neighbor gave her tomatoes to grow in it, because her idea was to sit in it when the temperature reached 100 degrees F inside.

Back in Australia her father grew a model railway in their small backyard; unable to continue this, lacking a boilermaker's live-steam certificate, she now has constant adventures to tell about the plants and creatures front and back - over 200 varieties at last count.

It is now a romantic wild cottage garden with miniature landscape, serendipity nature strip, experimental back yard and the absolute opposite of Computer-Aided-Design. No computer could cope. Its themes are freedom, adventure, refuge, closeness to the Untameable Wild, the comedies, tragedies and heroism of the wildlife creatures, free exercise, fresh food, lazy hours in sunshine, the joy of washing waving from the Hills Hoist, the fun of water-saving experiments, self-sown surprises, baked potatoes in the garden stove, the drama of struggles with Evil Weeds that seek world-domination, flowers to give away, and the pleasure of passers-by at something lovely in bloom whatever the season.


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