Lynda Hallinan: Logic goes out the window when lust is in the room
OPINION: Let's play a game of word association: Martin Luther King, James Bond, heat pumps, lust, lima beans and tennis balls.
I had a dream. I had a dream that Pierce Brosnan asked me to marry him. Of course I said yes. We had a child together and lived happily ever after, or at least until a top-secret film project took him to Africa while I went home to my real-life husband and children.
When I woke, all flustered and sweaty, I realised I'd forgotten to turn down the heat pump thermostat. It was set at 26 degrees, which appears to be temperature at which peri-menopausal women start fantasising about ageing Bond stars.
Who knew? Also, who knew that (a) my family apparently wouldn't even notice if I buggered off for a decade to live with an actor, and (b) a small part of my subconscious is actively lusting after a 64-year-old man with a granddad body and salt-and-pepper sideburns. Singer Chryssie Hynde, a woman of a similar vintage to Brosnan, said "in my experience, lust only ever leads to misery."
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This is patently untrue. In my experience, lust can also lead to seedy satisfaction, for lust visited me twice this week. It also arrived in my letterbox, with my name written all over it. There, wrapped in clear plastic with a soldier poppy on the front and a cabbage field on the back, lay the 31st edition of the Kings Seeds catalogue.
The Kings Seeds catalogue is to gardeners what lads' mags are to, well, lads. It is 128 pages of pure plant porn, boasting comely photos of open-pollinated hussies and cosmetically-enhanced hybrids with names like 'Asian Bride', 'Drunken Woman Fringed Head', 'Early Doll', 'Mama Mia Rossa', 'Sugar Plum' and 'Tasty Queen'.
To flick through a new seed catalogue is to succumb to immediate and insatiable desire. Suddenly you desperately want to grow giant white 'Walla Walla' onions, French banana shallots that look like raw chicken drumsticks and pink and white-striped 'Peppermint Stick' celery stalks. I can't help myself. I'm always on the lookout for something new – or old – to sow. Every year I buy more and more seeds, not because I need them, but because I want them. I'll never sow all the seeds I already own but when has lust ever been defeated by logic?
My hastily drawn up winter wishlist now includes the Texas Plume or flame flower, Ipomopsis rubra 'Scarlet Surprise' (said to be a must-have for bringing in bees and butterflies); a coneflower with a carmine heart and petals bleaching from pink to pale green (Echinacea 'Green Twister'), and a small but perfectly formed dwarf sunflower called 'Yellow Pygmy'. Come summer, I can't wait to pick armloads of Zinderella zinnias, with Mallowpuff blooms of lilac and peach, and Cosmos 'Double Click Cranberry', which looks less like a daisy and more like a multi-petalled chrysanthemum.
But how to choose between 18 types of poppies, nine calendulas or a feast of sassy snapdragons? I'll take 'Brazilian Carnival', 'Madame Butterfly', 'Candy Showers', 'Lemon Sherbet' and 'Lucky Lips', for starters.
This year's catalogue also lists 13 flavours of basil, heirloom 'Red Indian' flour corn with bloody kernels, and Indian cucumber 'Poona Kheera' with sandpaper skin that's said to keep for weeks in the fridge. Plus there's a baker's dozen of organic beans, from a purple speckled lima bean called 'Jackson Wonder Pole' to 'Red Swan Dwarf', a reddish-pink stringless bean born of a bout of 1960s free love between a purple snap bean and a pinto bean.
I'm also keen to sow the compact buttercrunch-style lettuce 'Tennis Ball'. This hardy heirloom dates back to the late 1700s, when it was a favourite in Thomas Jefferson's vegetable garden. Unlike the 45th American president, who puts his tiny hands to use creating Twitter turmoil, the third preferred to till the soil. He kept comprehensive notes about the crops he grew at Monticello in Virginia, noting that 'Tennis Ball' "does not require so much care and attention" as other lettuce varieties.
It's 20 years since I first placed an order – for Chenopodium foliosum, aka "strawberry spinach" – from Kings Seeds. Two decades on, it's still listed in their catalogue, still seducing gardeners who lust after the unusual.
Truth be told, while strawberry spinach is actually more closely related to quinoa, with tiny berries that taste more like unripe pomegranate seeds than ripe strawberries, that doesn't detract from the joyous novelty of growing it – or indeed anything – from seed.