Taking advantage of the beautifully sunny weather in Switzerland and my new found old-age (well, I did continue the march towards 30 not so long ago – it’s the beginning of the end) I’ve decided to dust off my green fingers and try to cultivate some life on my balcony.
First step – purchase something suitably hardy that can cope with living its life being looked after by me. Harder than it looks (she says, with years of experience at killing things).
I pottered down the lake to the Harrods of Gardening Centres (although, with prices the way they are here, pretty much every shop is the Harrods of something) to begin the ordeal of plant shopping.
There seems to be a pretty universal list of “types of people who use gardening centres”. I’ve managed to establish four distinct groups:
1. Impossibly good-looking and tanned young families buying beautiful plants that will flourish and elicit gasps of amazement from all who see them. They breeze through the aisles picking up combinations of plants that no one else would think of confident in the knowledge that somehow it will just work. The children are generally well behaved (with a little over excitement at the rabbits in the pet section). They neatly place their purchases in their shining, large, expensive car and whizz off to continue their perfect life. Grr.
2. Old couples bickering over whether a bamboo will completely dominate their three-by-three square foot garden. The shuffle their way around the plants, getting in the way, stopping at inopportune times (like when other people are trying to walk somewhere) and shout loudly at each other. Fans of brightly coloured pansies and “exotic” cactus. Can also be found buying bird seed in bulk.
3. A gaggle of slightly sunburnt, slightly overweight parents and children. This gang of humanity storms its way through the centre, touching, moving, breaking and dropping everything in sight. The offspring crowd round the bird cages and tap on the sides of the fish tanks. The parents look flustered, hot, bothered and are desperately trying to get as much shopping in the shortest time possible. Into a battered old car they stuff children, dogs, plants, compost and pots and off they go to fill their tiny garden with a smorgasbord of colour.
4. People like me, vainly hoping that this trip will be a short one. Quickly in and out and then home, to pot and plant and enjoy. No such luck.