Some years back, more than I can begin to count at this time of day, my uncle brought a greenhouse down to Devon.
I suspect it was a house-warming gift to my parents and they were chuffed to bits with it.
My mother had the green thumb in the family. I only have the ability to make brambles and stinging nettles grow; the weeds that will attack are my forte. I’d much rather have an affinity for azaleas or fuchsias but we don’t choose our gifts.
Anyway, the greenhouse. It arrived in a pre-pack arrangement and the men of the family put it together.
As soon as it was up, my mother decided to abbreviate the tea to slake the workers’ thirst, and go on a shopping trip, to fill her new plant-house.
Swiftly, it was filled with tomato plants, cucumbers, marrows and a selection of entirely legal herbs.
My dad built a raised floor, so that my mother’s wheelchair could be driven straight in to the greenhouse without her disappearing into the grassy void eight inches below, and that was her entertainment set for the rest of her life.
She loved her plants, and with a floor she could cross, she could spend a good amount of her time with them. Of course, she would need some sort of ramp to be able to outmanoeuvre the raised metal threshold, but that would be simple enough.
My dad worked out angles, sourced materials, had a massive stroke and died. It was a huge shock and I think it’s fair to say, we fell apart completely.
Within a few months, both my mother’s brothers arrived, and decided that between them, they would build the ramp my father had intended.
My mother had two brothers: the one who drives in second gear, and the one who lived in Canada.
I’m not sure which of them decided it would be better to watch me mix and pour the concrete at the age of fifteen, while the rest of them stood and made it look like work, but there it is. I built the ramp, they took the credit. Indeed, I cannot fathom how far I would have got with the construction without their tea-stained indifference.
In the years between now and then, the greenhouse continues to grow things. Mostly stinging nettles and ferns, another of my specialities. It has also become home to electrical waste and the occasional lost cat.
And it occurs to me, I have started using this blog as a motivator-slash-kick-up-the-bum to my own inaction.
Of course, when the materials arrive, I will fix the render on my tattered front wall. And now that I’ve mentioned it, I’ll empty and take down the greenhouse. It has, albeit accidentally, turned into a vegetable cemetery and it’s just too depressing.
I might take down the shed, while I think of it. The shed started rotting in the autumn of 2015, and if it sounds like I have a lot of work ahead of me, you’re dead right. I think I may have to search out my mother’s gardening books, and learn how to grow flowery things.