Another weekend, another trip to the garden centre. After all, life is for living. Not just any garden centre either, no! This is one that has never been visited before (well, by us anyway). There is a palpable sense of expectation and the promise of what is to come creates a frisson of excitement in the car. Well, for two out of three of us that is, for as is often the case my mother is coming along for the ride.
The afternoon visit starts innocently enough with a stop off in the coffee shop. After all, a pre-race meal is always important. But we will not be distracted by these frivolities for long: Once we have sampled their tea and cake, it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Now, as my summer bedding has been purchased and planted, I have to play this carefully, so I suggest sharing a trolley all in the name of reducing my husband’s blood pressure. My mother’s reaction (almost imperceptible except to the trained eye) is one of sheer horror but she recovers herself well and agrees to this daring plan.
My husband, relieved at the thought of any constraints to my potential purchases, needs no further encouragement and is back in a jiffy with the world’s smallest shopping trolley for us to share. Indeed, shopping with him is comparable to hunting with a game keeper.
Mum’s look of horror has been replaced with one of alarm and any concerns over blood pressure now centre on her as she squeaks, “I thought it was larger than that!” Oh dear. I can see she has already calculated the square footage and number of possible plants that could fit inside and I realise I need to act quickly if I’m to capitalise on this scenario.
As my husband pushes the trolley out of the cafe I realise that this is a two-horse race and not only are we under starter’s orders, we’re off! I’m first past the post to the nearest display and the going is good to firm. The first trolley space is claimed with a lavandula. Onto the second and I’m now two furlongs ahead as a parahebe makes its way in. I hear the dismay behind me; “Blimey, she’s got two plants in already and I haven’t even started looking!” This is from mum who’s clearly rattled.
And so it’s daughter in front with mother off the pace and bringing up the rear of the field. Daughter is going, past the alpine section and heading for the summer bedding. Mother has bolted to the ceramic pots and is being allowed to settle. In the meantime, daughter has eased up and is soon boxed in behind a Welsh couple discussing the merits of conifer vs box hedging. Champing at the bit, mother has changed course and has soon drawn even with daughter.
Attention taken by lobelia and begonias, mother has given way and daughter sets a pressured pace, round the herbaceous plants. And now it’s mother trailing behind, two osteospermum languishing forlornly on her side of the trolley and now it’s daughter all the way, crossing the finishing line to the tills, complete with a whole trayful of plants and a shabby chic tin planter (possibly more shabby than chic but half price nonetheless). Trouble is, I’m going to have to wait for her to catch up; we’re sharing a trolley you see!