A family gathering to grow – and laugh

<span>Purple rain: delicate sweet peas soon to flower on the plot.</span><span>Photograph: Allan Jenkins</span>
Purple rain: delicate sweet peas soon to flower on the plot.Photograph: Allan Jenkins

Mid May, a family day in my daughter Kala’s garden. The week before her birthday. We are gathered as always to sow summer flower seed to mark the anniversary: it is a longtime ritual now.

There are, of course, way too many packets collected for the occasion. Some were ordered specially from Ben and the team at Higgledy Garden, others I have hoarded throughout the year.

First, there are screams as Kala finds spiders in the potting shed as she unearths her garden tools. I have been growing a tray of Roger Parsons Spencer sweetpeas for her for the day. Another family ritual. But first, we have to deal with the dozens of self-sown nasturtiums (all my fault, of course) that are wildly scattered everywhere.

Her son, Dylan, is tasked with the transplanting, while her daughter, Leah, looks on. The weekend sun shines. We cut lengths of thick coir twine for the sweetpeas, easier for the young plants to climb.

Kala’s lawn has recovered from winter. Her reseeding regime has worked well. The fence has been recently painted. Her climbing roses and honeysuckle are in flower. The garden just needs this finishing summer touch.

We gather packets together, add multiple envelopes of saved seed. Dylan makes tea while Kala scatters her mixed summer garden around.

I overlook this space from my kitchen window, and see my daughter sitting there most mornings in the summer. We’ll wave. I’ll call out. She’ll motion to tell me to use the telephone.

Today, though, the birthday seed is scattered. All that’s left is to dig a decent hole for her new lavender. We are joined by Kala’s sister, Radha, who’s brought love, laughter and presecco. I leave my daughters to it, just taking Kala’s garden knife home with me to sharpen. I will drop it back to her tomorrow on my way to the newsagent to buy the Sunday papers.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com