As I write, loose limbed young athletes, the very cream of the crop from countries around the world are limbering up for the greatest show on earth; the Olympics.
But what if gardening was a sport? From the 10m daffodil deadhead to the 100m scarifier, here is our guide to the toughest events of the Gardening Olympics – the greatest ‘sow’ on earth.
An unusual choice for the inaugural event at the first ever gardening olympiad, but the parsnip pentathlon would undoubtedly make for one of the most gruelling events for the olympic gardener.
First, the earth must be dug over and sieved to remove stones. The hole is then prepared, fertilised, filled and finally the seeds inserted. This is a task requiring patience, attention to detail and accuracy – certainly not for the faint hearted.
Mowing presents a true contest of skill. There’d be points awarded for straightness, points for creative endeavour and also points for the elegance of the turn.
Mowing is of course already a sport in its own right but for the olympic event, there would be several categories; hand mowing, electric, petrol, sit on and of course, the 100m scythe.
10m Daffodil Deadhead
Not to be confused with the deadlift, the deadhead requires excellent hand, eye coordination, a good wrist action and thoroughness. The 10m squared daffodil deadhead would challenge even the most experienced gardener.
Imagine the debates that would rage about which species of flower to select for the event; Daffs don’t grow everywhere after all. Rather than ‘altitude’ training, some gardening athletes would probably have to resort to ‘latitude’ training.
The scourge of every gardener, the elimination of weeds would make a perfect olympic event. Just as a hurdler has to combine, speed with clean jumping, the weeder’s score would take into account both time taken and the number of weeds missed.
As a subcategory of weeding, hoeing would also feature in our Gardening Olympics, with points deducted for mistaking seedlings for weed shoots.
An event that combines athleticism with artistry; boxing would be judged by a multinational panel of experts. Score cards would be held aloft; the dream of every entrant, a line of perfect nines.
This could only be achieved by faultless, immaculate use of secateurs on the box hedge combined with the divine creativity of the topiary employed. Pruning, a less glamorous sport battling for recognition would not be recognised as an olympic event, much to the frustration of campaigners for its inclusion.
Few gardening tasks call for as much elbow grease as scarifying a lawn by hand. With events over a range of distances, the 100 metres scarifier would be the blue riband event of the Gardening Olympics. Tall, muscular, lycra clad, welly wearing gardeners would strut about before the start, eyeing each other up, trying to face down their opponents.
Silence for the start, the tension is palpable. A loud bang and they’re off, moss and thatch flying in all directions. One draws ahead of the field, knees pumping, rake going like the clappers. He dips his chest as he crosses the line, victorious. Later, tears fill the champion’s eyes as he climbs the podium to receive the golden seed tray and in a later interview he gives all the credit to his Mum.