“The society which has abolished every kind of adventure makes its own abolition the only possible adventure.” Paris, May 1968

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The workers garden.

There is no getting away from it, and events like today's annual plant and seedling sale always bring it home to me, in our neck of the woods allotmenteering is an almost exclusively middle class hobby. Alright, I live in an area that started out pretty middle class and has become increasingly so as property prices have spiralled up, but even that can't account for the fact that where as the chattering classes are beating the gates down to get a plot, the local proles seem to be not interested at all. I know that this is a shocking generalisation and no doubt things are different in other parts of the country but we have hardly any working-class plotholders under 70. Why is this? Of course, at one time keeping an allotment was pretty much the preserve of the working class male and gardening itself was a hobby that cut across class lines. Just as military history tends to be victors history and the history of nations the history of their ruling elite, so it is with something as mundane as a spot of gardening. We know all about what Capability Brown designed for the aristos and who planted what at Sissinghurst but comparatively little has been written about the countless number of ordinary folk who laboured in their spare time in order savour the simple pleasure of growing something. A new book, Gardens Of The British Working Class by Margaret Willes, put this omission right. At a cover price of twenty five quid it might be something to order from the library rather than buy.


Dr Llareggub said...

Thanks for the posts on allotments. I have always loved gardening, but now I have a large garden I also have lots of dogs and the two are incompatible. My dad could never get access to an allotment and had no garden, but we shared a tarmac drive. And dad dug a bit up, and he and mum carried buckets of soil from a nearby field and he put bricks around the soil and grew veg and flowers. He was so proud of that bit of garden.

Gitane said...

Round here in the West Country the middle class wouldn't be seen dead in an allotment, most have got gardens big enough for a veggie plot however most opt for a pool or jacuzzi!
Allotments are a working class treat here, lively, local and friendly.