Christine Grahame: An accidental politician but a constant gardener

Christine Grahame: Gardens are a blessing, let them grow. Stock image
Christine Grahame: Gardens are a blessing, let them grow. Stock image
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I think I am in the wrong job. I left school at 16 to work at Standard Life as a clerkess. Pretty soon I worked out that there was no future for a woman above a certain rank, this was before the advent of ‘glass ceilings, and went to university.

I became a school teacher, by accident, then a lawyer, by choice, then a politician, pretty well by accident. In between I have been a cleaner; waitress (toughest job) and worked in customer services in M&S.

Christine Grahame MSP

Christine Grahame MSP

As a child I dreamt of being a vet, until I was put off by mum who told me I had to wrangle bulls.

Now, after years of pottering in my various gardens, I realise that I really want to be a garden planner. Can’t help myself, I see wasted gardens and long to grab them by the weeds, shake them about and make them spaces of escape and don’t mention tarmac and slabs.

Once I had a large country garden. The children in the village had space for footie without damaging the fruit cage and shrubs. It took hours to mow the grass but it was better than any visit to the gym.

Now I have a small town garden and on either side the Edinburgh traffic growls and roars past almost entirely lost in the arguments of the thrushes (a real fighting bunch) and sparrows filling their bellies on fat balls and seeds.

I can watch them for hours and am beginning (sadly) to distinguish one individual from another. Move over Bill Oddie.

One cheeky fat sparrow fluffed up its feathers for mum to feed it when she was but a skelf by comparison.

He (I shall call it a he, I am thinking of my sons)) eventually gave up and huffily began to feed himself. Lazy wee toad, there was so much seed he was standing in it!

At night I listen to the urban fox calling for a mate. All this in a small green patch crammed (one could even say over planted) with shrubs and herbaceous. Where there is a space it must be filled, first rule of the Christine garden.

Now I have to stop myself interfering in the gardens of others. You see, for the life of me I can’t comprehend why most folks who have gardens don’t see this as a blessing, a place for them, to sit, have a wee glass of wine, a cup of tea, and let the garden set the pace, the mood.

Now don’t get me wrong, it can be a challenge. There are the invasive weeds: couch grass for one, slugs and snails by the bucket load, slithering about in the night devouring the hostas to leave but a sad stalk.

There are the gnats and midges which will take revenge if you try to prune their hidey-holes and I have many itchy bites to prove it.

There are failures. Whatever happened to my tree peony? But gardening is about looking forward as the gaudy red of the geraniums fades

I have my eyes on spring bulbs. There are still one or two spots for them and if there are not, I shall plant them in pots and in my window boxes. At least the beasties and slugs will leave them alone.

As for the cantankerous thrushes, I suspect that as they have found their garden paradise, the sparrows will just have to up their game

Christine Grahame is SNP MSP for Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale