Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The daily barrow

Imagine if your wheelbarrow could talk. What stories would it have to tell? Mine gets thrown about, wheeled up and down planks and onto heaps and bonfires, and filled with everything from tools to compost, large rocks to loads of sand, steaming horse manure to the windblown petals from the rose garden. As my ever-present companion, I think it’s well placed to be able to give a fairly accurate and detailed account of how I go about the daily business of gardening.

Some time ago I had the idea of supplementing the records I keep of my gardening activity throughout the year by taking pictures of the contents of my wheelbarrow on a regular basis, part of the rationale being that even if I don’t have the time to make a detailed write up, a quickly snatched photograph will act as a useful aide memoire as to what was going on on any particular day. Using the wheelbarrow as the focus around which to capture this information is particularly appropriate as the vast majority of the material I process or work with – and certainly the tools I use – will at some point during the day be placed in the tray of that particularly useful object*. I’ve even started up a fledgling hashtag on Twitter – #thedailybarrow – with the hope of peering into my fellow gardener’s barrows to see what they’ve been getting up to. I’m incurably nosey, so I’ll be giving this another push as I’m determined it should gain some traction in the twittersphere, not content to rest until the internet groans under the weight of thousands of trending pictures depicting mounds of potpourri on wheels.

All of this is intended to be an inclusive activity. It may well be that you’re not fortunate enough to garden every day, but don’t on any account allow that to dissuade you from adopting the discipline I recommend here. Take a photo of your wheelbarrow when you do get the chance to fill it up and, if you feel inclined, tweet it with the hashtag #thedailybarrow. Perhaps your gardening is done in a bijoux courtyard space, a balcony, or even a window sill, where the use of a wheelbarrow would be somewhat restricted. The contents of your trug, or the old yoghurt pot you put your window box clippings in will be just as interesting to share, and just as informative to record. In much the same way as you can gain valuable insight about a person by examining what they choose to throw away, so you can tell what a gardener’s been getting up to by nosing through their wheelbarrow. Of course, one would hope that most of what’s in there will be bound for the compost heap rather than the dustbin, but the principle is valid as far as the analogy goes.

So, whether barrow, trug, or something smaller, why not form a habit of taking a snap of what goes in there – either for your own journaling purposes, or to share with others via #thedailybarrow? It takes very little effort and, if nothing else, it will provide you with the perfect raw materials from which to make a unique calendar for 2016.

* unless it's a day when I’m working in the greenhouse.