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Clodagh Finn: I won't let the gardening gods plant seeds of doubt

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An explosion of TV shows about gardening has put pressure on the amateurs to be as green-fingered as the likes of Diarmuid Gavin

An explosion of TV shows about gardening has put pressure on the amateurs to be as green-fingered as the likes of Diarmuid Gavin

An explosion of TV shows about gardening has put pressure on the amateurs to be as green-fingered as the likes of Diarmuid Gavin

I have no business writing about gardening: I once planted a raspberry cane and it grew up to be a blackcurrant bush. I might have made jam from the fruit – one small jar – if it hadn't been coated with that unappetising grey-white patina.

But that little hiccup didn't stop me gardening, if that's the word for it. Even in Ireland, even in this weather, there is nothing to rival the peace that comes with pulling weeds with your bare hands from the moist, cool soil.

The smell of freshly mown grass should be bottled, and there is something incredibly optimistic about hearing the hum of lawnmowers on the wind. Could summer finally be on the way? (Could it hell, but that's another day's work).

In any case, this should still be a time for the amateur gardener to rejoice – but not any more. You see, amateur is not what it once was. The pressure in the garden, like the pressure in the kitchen, has ratcheted up several notches.

In the same way that the proliferation of celebrity chefs has made us feel we must be Rachel Allen in the kitchen, a new focus on garden makeovers has turned us into Diarmuid Gavin wannabes in the garden.

Of course, not everyone is going to tune into 'Super Garden' on RTE and feel the need to design a showcase garden fit for Bloom or Chelsea Flower Show.

But some of us are very impressionable. I used to look out at my patch of green and think, 'maybe I'll chance a courgette this year', but now, thanks to the plethora of garden shows on the box, I feel I should aim higher – a water feature, perhaps, or an oriental theme in the southwest corner.

But trying to be Carol Klein in the garden is the culinary equivalent of attempting to make a souffle when you can't even boil an egg.

No wonder people in the UK are abandoning their allotments in numbers. One newspaper said TV gardening shows were to blame because they made growing vegetables look too easy.

And it's true. There is something of the "here's one I made earlier" about all gardening programmes. They plant tiny carrots seeds on air, then flash forward to harvest and pull perfectly formed specimens from the ground.

How is that supposed to make you feel when your carrots are stringy and the width of a Bic pen?

We have performance anxiety in every other area of our lives, isn't it time to leave the garden alone? Maybe it's time to go back to basics and start a TV gardening show for beginners, along the lines of Delia Smith's series of books called 'How to Cook'.

For inspiration, the producers might look at a Rich Tennant cartoon, which is still pinned up inside my garden shed. It shows a couple in a flowerbed putting down plant markers that say 'Wait and See', 'Don't Pull', 'Maybe Delph?'

As for a name. How about: 'Don't Throw in the Trowel'?

Irish Independent