“What’s this big leafy plant, here?”


Today a young couple, Zia and Greg, spontaneously visited the veggie garden. At this time of year my garden looks at its best. Dense, lush, filled with bees and birds and the promise of harvests to come. I love it and, as Greg pointed out, I loved sharing it with people.

It wasn’t always like that.

Here’s the thing: on closer inspection some of that lush growth comes from weeds. There’s a grass plant in with the tomatoes that I’ve walked past and meant to pluck out for weeks. There’s a cherry tomato, half eaten by the birds, abandoned on garden path. The rain gauge is choked with green slime and the dogs had, right that minute, left me an unpleasant gift at the entrance to the garden.

Close up my garden is definitely NOT going to make it into Garden and Home.

All this could have (would have a year ago) left me in a spin of tidying and pruning and weeding and fussing. By the time anyone arrived they would encounter a puffing, red-faced harridan; too exhausted to show any enthusiasm at all.

What does this have to do with Rhubarb? Rhubarb, it turns out has a lot to teach us about substance over form. In my opinion desserts have been going downhill even since the seventies. Ever since they stopped being pudding and became dessert and “stodgy” was codemned. Specifically, I mourn the demise of rhubarb related puddings.

Sometime (probably at the end of the seventies) some villain said “we eat with our eyes”. More fools us; we believed it. So, whilst Nigella’s rhubarb appears on TV girlishly pink and decadent, in the real world (i.e. my kitchen) rhubarb, at its tastiest, comes out coloured somewhere between khaki and snot. I takes a substantial commitment to the tart deliciousness of rhubarb to overlook it’s less than desirable hue. My children have not yet achieved this level of mastery.

Rhubarb is a Maggie Smith of puddings in a world of Khardashian desserts. (Not that Maggie Smith looks at all like snot.)

So decided taken a leaf (haha) from Rhubarb and begun focusing on the substance of the garden. The veggies and flowers and insects and birds and dogs give me immense pleasure. I love it because its not perfect. The imperfection means that tomorrow (and the next day and the next) I will have things to do that will keep me in it not just looking at it.

Will you find weeds and dog shit and problems? Yup. Does it make the garden less lovely? No. Except for the dog shit.


Harvesting rhubarbRhubarb with leaves rhubarb stems

stewed rhubarb