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We are still trying to sell our house.

Apart from a little flurry where we briefly thought someone had bought it, we have watched noses being turned up at the rate of about two a week.

This is because – and I am about to launch on a rant of Colbornian proportions (if not style) here – people are philistines.

As I have mentioned before, my garden is looking a bit spesh at the moment. Tulips a go-go, forget-me-nots smiling at the sunshine, grass a-greening and blossom sprinkling the trees. It doesn’t get much more beautiful than this, and it’s a great improvement on our early days of house-selling when we were trying to convince everyone that our expanse of humps huddled over chilly bare soil would eventually look really spectacular. Honest, guv.

Well, now it does look spectacular. And you know what happened the other day? This nice couple came round, made appreciative noises about the house and its proximity to a good primary school, then walked into the garden.

They traversed the tulips, skirted the wendyhouse, glanced at the industrious plant-production going on in greenhouse and shed and peered at the pond.

Then they returned to the bit where you can look over the fence into next-door’s garden. Now, I adore my next-door-neighbours who are the friendliest and most cheerful family you could ever wish to live cheek-by-jowl with. But they wouldn’t mind me saying their garden is basically a 200-foot long football pitch.

“Ah,” said our erstwhile buyers. “Now that’s the sort of garden we’d be looking for.”


What IS IT with people? WHY can’t they show even the teensiest smidgen of imagination? Let alone creativity? And as for connection with the soil… clearly disappeared under a coating of Dulux-painted plasterboard decades ago.

I’m not asking for an appreciation society for my garden: just some sign that it is a good thing to have outside space which is cared for and used with an eye for beauty and enjoyment of nature.

So many of the miserable, limited-horizon people coming through our door seem to expect a takeaway garden. One you can buy off the shelf, plonk behind the back door to fill up that intimidating place called Outside so it looks more or less “done” and then forget about it.

Never mind that it is a living thing with the irritating habit of growing. In fact flowers are a bit of a pain, aren’t they? They come, and then they go, and then you have to clean up after them.

Suburbia is taking over the world. And I don’t mean that in a nice way.

No wonder people are selling off their back gardens hand over fist so they can be built on. It’s only just occurred to me, after years of making other excuses (population density, housing crisis, yadayadayada) that it’s actually because they don’t, in fact, want a back garden. If you build on land it’s a convenient way of stopping all those annoying growing things appearing, isn’t it? Hey – get this. You don’t even have to mow it. Low maintenance or what?

No wonder new-builds are so popular with their itty-squitty handkerchief-sized gardens. No wonder half my writing is about how to do gardening without a garden. And no wonder people look at me as if I’m mad when I say one of the reasons I want to move away from my 200ft x 30ft garden is because I haven’t got enough outside space.

I have reached three conclusions from this bruising and to be honest profoundly depressing process.

1) we’re going to have a bloody tough job selling our house.
2) I live too close to London.
3) I like gardeners more than any other people on the planet.