Well it wouldn’t be a proper blog if I didn’t have a few axes to grind! So what has started me off? Whilst dabbling in reading the latest from the world of horticulture I saw on the news feed page a job advert for a Plant Area Manager – the posted salary? – a mouthwatering, absolutely stonking £13000. That’s minimum wage. The advert went on to say ‘This is a role working for a successful group who requires a very high quality of staff’.
No wonder there is a dearth of new blood coming into horticulture. If this attitude towards paying a decent wage doesn’t change then let’s stop the hand wringing now.
But on the other hand, on a return journey to pick up a new throat baffle for the wood burner I was stopped in my tracks by the delicious smell of the wild garlic in the woods.
Okay – this was a bit of a diversion from the escape planning. My birthday provided the excuse, so off we went on a short road trip down the west coast of Wales. On the way down we stopped off at Llanerchaeron and I made an immediate bee-line to the walled garden where I found a wonderful collection of old apple trees, some of which had been espaliered, but through past neglect had grown into wonderful knobbly, gnarled structures. These trees have been left to grow on untrained but are now joined by new espaliers. I like to compare local orchard plantings with the ones we have planted. The Llanerchaeron orchard is a mix of apples familiar to me such as James Grieve, Blenheim Orange, and some not so familiar such as Irish Peach, Hanwell Souring and Miller’s Seedling. A lovely collection of old varieties.
Right – no more messing around. It’s action time on the escape committee. I can’t start on an empty stomach so I’ve obtained provisions – see opposite. Actually the provisions are an homage to ‘An Omelette and a Glass of Wine’ – a seminal collection of writings by Elizabeth David. Her writing had a HUGE influence on me in my twenties (another great influence was Freya Stark). I THINK it was in that book I first read about bruschetta and dipping bread into a mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Much better for you, I’m sure, than my erstwhile diet of americano coffee with an added expresso and adrenaline. The plants behind are 1) a form of Symphytum (I think), so hopefully a good source of liquid plant feed, plus 2) some ground elder, Aegopodium, – not so good – though apparently much prized by the Romans – so perhaps a ground elder omelette is in the offing…