I’ve always been an advocate of the ‘benign neglect’ school of child rearing, unconvinced of the benefits of either constant surveillance or ceaseless stimulation. Leave the poor kids alone to develop their imaginations! In Africa mine ignored all their toys in favour of sticks, rocks, water, and mud, endlessly rampaging with neighbourhood mates through field and bush when possible, garden and street when not.

Apparently what works for kids works for a lot of plants also. Witness the rampant parsley in my tiny greenhouse, which received no water, no heat, and no attention throughout the winter. And the wonderfully fragrant rucola is almost as lush, both having somehow reseeded themselves in defiance of my neglect.

My principle in the garden: no chemicals, minimal care, lots of natural mulch (i.e. weeds). What survives, survives – and therefore thrives.