Having never purported to know any more about the garden than the next potterer, I have often used this Backyard column to call on the experts for advice and reassurance.
And I am ever so grateful.
Over the past four years I have collected so many and varied cuttings of knowledge, sprays of generosity, seeds of absolute goodness.
Dear reader, I find your depth of knowledge truly awesome, and your unfettered willingness to share it, and the odd jar of home-made jam or tenanted beehive, with me, so incredibly beautiful.
But today, given that this is my farewell column, allow me the indulgence of dishing out some advice of my own.
Whatever you do:
■ Smoke the beehive, always, before entering. The guard bees are never off duty.
■ Stop saying you want chooks, and just get some. But you must name them, talk to them, love them. Unconditionally.
■ Take a minute when your knife pierces the submarine yellow yolk of an aforementioned chook’s egg and marvel at its soft-boiled perfection. Mindfully explore its texture, innocence and freshness and rejoice in its prosaic/wondrous duplicity.
■ Serve a poachie on a bed of home-grown spinach. You won’t find anything easier to grow.
■ Boycott cage eggs. Make your objections known.
■ Grow one thing well rather than many things neglectfully.
■ Make your backyard somewhere you want to be.
■ Line your path with those little solar lights that cost next to nothing.
■ Build a clear awning over your clothes line so your garments won’t get caught in the rain, and spend $4 on one of those plastic rings with the pegs attached for your socks and undies.
■ Schedule gardening chores into your daily timetable.
■ Plant a lemon tree, and a bay tree while you’re at it.
■ Grow peanuts because they’re so quirky.
■ Grow some ornamentals just because.
■ Join or form a garden group.
■ Ask an elderly neighbour for tips on growing things.
■ Buy the best secateurs you can afford and don’t leave them out in the rain with your garden gloves and mobile phone.
■ Change your outlook and clean your windows, or better still, splash out and pay someone to do it for you.
■ Grow lettuce and pick it just before dinner.
It’s a different breed
to the one wrapped
in plastic on the supermarket shelf.
■ Go easy on the possums, they’re just being possums. Just make sure there’s enough food for everyone or net the stuff you’d rather not share.
■ Let many kids on the trampoline at once with the hose but do not hold me responsible for any breakages.
■ Remember, soils ain’t soils. Enrich yours.
■ Treat your plants to some sort of seaweed extract.
■ Pick some hydrangeas, pop them in a retro vase and make Martha Stewart eat her heart out.
■ Don’t go anywhere near your trees with the whipper snipper.
■ Remember that I said ‘‘taking cuttings’’ (responsibly) from other people’s gardens is ‘‘not stealing’’.
■ And don’t let the scrub turkeys (or fruit flies) get you down.
It has been a pleasure knowing you.