I guess women often meet other women at the school gates but my kids are grown up, so I needed somewhere else to meet new people when I moved to the edge of this village. I didn’t feel ready for the W.I, Scottish country dancing would be a hopeless choice, I can’t sing in tune, so it had to be the Horticultural Society. Even with a tiny town plot I was a keen gardener so, as soon as we moved, I was off to the monthly meetings.
The village horticultural society has been running for over a hundred years and many of the members could be described as ‘heritage gardeners’, people with gorgeous inherited gardens (and houses). Some of these gardens are magnificent. They are often open for the yellow book scheme, are visited on village ‘secret gardens ‘day and are the site for charitable fetes and cream teas.
I have a meagre 100 feet crammed with a huge Bramley apple, a spreading beech, a patch of vegetables, a few flowers, a ramshackle green house and his and hers workshops. His workshop houses his tools and mountains of mountain bikes and appropriate clutter. My workshop doubles as a glass bead making studio and garden shed. In the autumn bunches of onions and garlic, trays of stored apples and squashes vie for space between racks of coloured glass rods and garden tools. I can just squeeze my plant propagator on the bench next to my kiln.
Strangely I haven’t been asked to open ‘lampwork part acre’ to the public yet. In fact my ploy for meeting new people wasn’t initially successful. I’m a loyal attender but a bit on the shy side, After a couple of years of Horticultural Evenings I still felt like a new girl in the wrong uniform.
One evening, late home from work, I rushed off to the meeting wearing my bright pink jacket instead of my usual gardeners’ drab. The effect was miraculous. Several of the older gents, of whom there are many, politely introduced themselves, another offered me a chair and volunteered to get me a tea in the interval. A few years ago I’d have said I was , 'In with a chance.' The secretary even welcomed me as a new member and looked a little taken back when I tartly explained I‘d been paying him my dues for the past two years.
The next meeting I wore my usual garb, no one spoke , so I wore my pink jacket again and was met by friendly approval, at least from the gardening gents. This took place a few years ago. I can’t say even now they are a very friendly bunch, but I got to know several of them as soon as I entered the village show and started to win a few modest prizes. Once their garlic and courgettes were under threat from a woman they started to notice me. As for the pink jacket, it’s looking a little worn. Well it’s almost at the point when I’ll wear it down the allotment. I’ve got another in a rather fetching purple. I’ll wear that when I really want to impress.