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Some time back Best Friend Lisa introduced me to a TV show called The Allotment. It had weekly item on it entitled ‘What’s In My Shed’. It was full of people proud to share the secrets of their sheds with the general public. These people had exceptionally neat and tidy sheds and enjoyed keeping things in order. There was even one bloke who washed and ironed his potato sacks between seasons and kept them in a neat pile ready for the next crop. Oh how we laughed at the shed people. Reader – I have to admit that five years down the line I have crossed over to the dark side. I am a shed person.

Actually this isn’t strictly true. I’m not so much a shed person (although I’m pretty keen on my shed) I’m more a greenhouse girl. I love my greenhouse. It was our wedding gift from friends and family and I spend many happy hours in it planting things. It might have been a gift to both of us, but has become my space. Christopher has his barn. I have the greenhouse. I share it with no one except Marmalade the cat who likes to use it as his own personal solarium on sunny afternoons.

In fact when I’m having a bad day and the husband is driving me mad or I have too much work to do and my head hurts – just standing in my greenhouse and looking at everything growing in neat rows makes me feel calm again. It’s a kind of gardener’s valium. Or perhaps valerian. Now there’s an irony here given that you can’t order nature, it does it’s own thing – so that ought to send a control freak like me into a complete tizzy, but it doesn’t, it’s a healthy reminder that life goes on at it’s own pace no matter what trivial stuff has been stressing me out. And while I wait for nature to do its thing I can be as obsessive as I like about putting pots in rows and seed trays in straight lines. I have stopped short of washing and ironing my growbags, but I fear I may be on the slippery slope. You know that things are getting bad when friends and family are starting to buy you T-shirts and mugs with slogans on them like ‘gardeners soil their plants’. Worse still – you actually start to a) find these funny and b) have a genuine desire to wear the T-shirts in public. It’s probably only a matter of time before I get included on a Channel Five programme called something like ‘Greenhouse Geeks’.

A liking for order goes way back I’m afraid. If you asked my friends to describe me I reckon the first thing that they would say is “tidy”. Ok – truth be told “bossy” might be the first word they’d use but “tidy” would be a close second. Years ago my tidy desk obsession was pointed out to me by a colleague. She realised that everything was arranged on my desk perpendicular to the edges. She conducted an experiment. Everytime she walked past to go to the photocopier she moved something – ruler, diary, index card box, to an odd angle. By the time she walked back again, I’d straightened things out. She continued this secret battle with me for months in an effort to cure me. She failed.

Christopher laughs at my need for neatness, but he isn’t far behind me in the obsessive stakes. Take a look around his barn and you will see neat rows of jam jars on the work bench containing nails, screws, nuts, and bolts all ordered by size. Clearly we deserve each other. What next – matching home-knitted jumpers?

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