Edward Enfield - growing ripe in old age

Edward Enfield.
Edward Enfield.

Edward Enfield has only ever had one garden, but his dealings with it have extended over half a century.

He came to his three quarters of an acre knowing nothing about growing anything – the start of a journey he chronicles in Growing To A Ripe Old Age (Summersdale, Chichester, ISBN: 978 1 84953 170 2, £9.99).

Edward, who lives near Billingshurst and is dad to comedian Harry, discusses it for the Petworth Festival in Leconfield Hall, Market Square, Petworth on Tuesday, July 17 at 2.30pm.

In conversation with Petworth Festival artistic director Stewart Collins, Edward will lead his audience through the thorny subject of roses.

Counting the blessings of keeping chickens and exposing the perfidy of gardening copywriters, he will offer wise and witty tips on how best to enjoy the fruits of your labours.

With time, the garden becomes a genuine source of pleasure and satisfaction – even if it can be a battle along the way.

“Everything is against you. I sometimes think that if someone started a charity called War On Wildlife, I would sign up for it. Gardening is a bit of a struggle, but that’s the thing. You mustn’t let it take control. You have got to enjoy it!

“We have lived in this house for 50 years. That’s what the book is about. The garden is about three quarters of an acre, and it was rather run down. The book is the story of how it got to the state it is in now, which isn’t too bad. I don’t take all the credit for that. I am not good at flower beds. You need artistic flair for that, and I haven’t got it. I have got a chap called Dominic who comes one hour a week, and it is looking good. The rose bed is my affair, though, and that’s also looking good.”

Stick with it, battle it out and there is fun ahead.

“I love looking out of the window at the garden; I love going to sleep in the garden; and I love eating the produce from it.

“And there is a certain smug satisfaction when you look at other people’s gardens and think ‘My sweet peas are better than yours!’”

Edward particularly prides himself on his roses: “I know what to do. You have got to plant them in black stuff, fed them, regularly spray them and prune them properly.”

Otherwise it’s gardening by instinct, rather than science: “You could point to the flower bed and say ‘What is that?’ and I would just answer ‘It goes purple every year and I keep forgetting its name!’”

The point is simply to launch yourself into it all: “You’ve just got to get started!”

Tickets on 01798 344576.