Gardeners Pack Their Bags

            Tips abound on how to pack for a trip, especially now that we will be paying for not just extra luggage, but even the minimum one bag — how to fold, what to stuff in your shoes (extra socks), where to put the cords for all your electronics.  OK, putting them all together in a plastic bag does make more sense than stuffing them into a bag where they spring out like those joke snakes.

            But with each trip abroad to visit gardens, we run into another quirky example to show that packing, even in these trying times, is personal.  At our tour meeting for Scotland, Mary said she takes a pair of underwear for each day, none of this washing out in the sink, but her husband takes only one pair.  We wondered if he might be borrowing hers.  I still remember checking in for the first England trip, and turning around in line to see Beth and Raoul, each with an enormous wheeled bag, and here we were so proud to have gotten everything in to two small suitcases plus small carryons.  Come to find out, one of those enormous bags was empty — Beth was planning on doing some shopping.

            Gardeners vary on how intense they want their trip to be; I know many groups who head for nurseries when abroad, and buy plants they might not be able to buy here.  Then, they spend their evenings in the hotel washing the soil off roots, carefully packing plants away.  This sounds way too much like work to me.  After touring two or three gardens, and getting back to the hotel around 5, we have just enough time to freshen up before we head for the pub.  Really, you need to get your priorities straight — I figure it won’t be long before those plants show up at my favorite specialty nursery.

            So, here are my packing tips for gardeners:

*     It’s OK to mail things back to yourself, even if it’s free catalogs you picked up at the Chelsea Flower Show.

*     They sell toothpaste and deodorant in England and Ireland, so take something tiny and buy when you need it.

*    If you’ve forgotten a piece of clothing, find a Marks & Spencer.

*     Lots of thin layered clothing is the best way to stay warm, cool or anywhere between.  Also, thin layers dry quicker either after being washed or getting caught in the rain.

Which reminds me of the time we got soaked at Stourhead.  Weather stories next time!

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