My aunt Sylvia’s life motto is ‘always buy quality’. Advice I have tried to stick to. My shoes come from Crockett and Jones; my briefcase is from Swaine Adeney Brigg (it’s the proper wooden-framed type that you can tip on its side and sit on when everyone else is standing on the train); I have a coat from Purdey (the gun will have to wait); and the diary I write in each day is from Smythson.
But what I want now is a greenhouse, the sort I saw at Chelsea with brick bottoms and ingenious devices for opening windows. I could get a polytunnel, but it would give me no pleasure. Devoid of a greenhouse, I gamble with nature by planting seeds outside before I should. This year, with no late frost, my vegetable patch is something I would be very proud to show anyone.
The other secret is to avoid the garden centres and top up your herbaceous border by buying all your plants at local village fêtes, garden clubs and especially from any nearby garden that’s in the National Garden Scheme’s Yellow Book. I find these local plants are far hardier than their commercial rivals, grow like demons and, of course, have already proved that they suit the local soil.