21 February 2011

If adventures do not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad

I'm not one to argue with Jane, and the time has come for this blog to capture the next series of horticultural adventures soon to befall this young lady. Yes, folks, I'm going to England! Studying and working in an English garden has been a dream of mine for years, and it's about to come true in a startlingly surreal kind of way!

By week's end I'll be traveling to London with a most esteemed colleague, friend, and Professional Gardener legend, whereupon we will take planes, trains, and automobiles - on the wrong side of the road - to our final destination, there to spend six months under the tutelage of one of the most famous Head Gardeners in the world, who also happens to be the nicest guy you could ever hope to meet and a natural teacher. He's been Head Gardener at the same garden for nearly 20 years and is a veritable walking encyclopedia of horticultural knowledge.

This Padawan has much to learn from the Jedi Master!

Today is packing day and while I've managed to tame my packing lists in years past, packing for six months of work, planning for variable weather and seasons, is a lot different than packing for a few weeks' holiday. Last summer I managed three weeks in Spain and England with a carry-on and a backpack and that was too much! This time I'm determined to do better! But where to start?

I consulted a fellow Longwood alum who made this same trip three years ago. In fact, it was through him and his companion that I learned of the PG Program. His advice: Layers are key! We will have access to a clothes washer though I'm not sure about a dryer, which won't be a problem in summer but could complicate things now if I don't plan well, which means rain gear is essential to keep clothes as dry as possible while working outside.

So where to begin? At the beginning, of course! I pulled everything out of my closet that I thought I'd need for a typical week's work in cold, rain, and sun plus a few nicer things for sightseeing trips and spread them all out on the living room floor.


Hmmm. Perhaps not! Next I consulted various websites offering packing tips for the business and leisure traveler. One website offered the Universal Packing List which enables you to enter the dates of travel, minimum and maximum temperatures at your destination, average rainfall, the sorts of activities you may find yourself engaged in (fishing, hiking, trekking, etc) and the size of your bag (my favorite option was "I've hired a sherpa"!). Hitting 'enter' will spit out an exhaustive list of not only what to pack but what to do before leaving home ("wash dishes"). After reviewing the list the Sherpa reference became clear.

I'm determined to keep my burden to one large suitcase, one carry-on, and one backpack though I keep thinking about that antique steamer trunk I once owned and wished I still had it! I collected the things deemed absolute necessities and put them in my large suit case.


Good start!

Then the packing began and by the end of the day I had clothes, gear, and personal items all stuffed into the three bags. They will not only offer a good workout as I schlep them about various airports, the contents will see me through the next half a year of gardening under moody Enlgish skies.

I'm going to England! Let the adventures begin!