I love avocados but I don’t buy them often. Apart from the ecological and environmental baggage that seems to be attached to them these days, I am ashamed to say that I don’t always eat them if I do buy them. It is not because I don’t want to but because I rarely get the timing right and they are either rock hard or rotten.
It is fortunate that I got the timing right when I had my first avocado. I bought it from a stall in Surrey Street market in Croydon (UK) and it cost me 35p which was a lot then. I was about 16 and I had a gardening job that paid 35p an hour. Clutching it carefully I took it home and the family shared it, not knowing what to expect – we didn’t put custard on it so I must have done enough research to know that it wasn’t supposed to be sweet! I am sure I bought it as much to grow an avocado plant, which was all the range at the time. Over the years I have grown them on occasion and there was a huge one in the (unheated) conservatory at Myddelton House. I saw them survive outside in urban, warm squares in London. But they are not really suitable for growing outside in the British Isles and although they are often suggested as houseplants they are not really very ornamental.
So I was surprised to see a plant appear in the garden, with bright, bronze foliage. It took me a while to recognise an old friend and realise that it was an avocado seedling. The bed had been mulched, in spring, with some rather rough compost and I had obviously thrown out a avocado or, if I had to actually eaten it, a stone, and it had managed to germinate.
I will take pity on it and will dig it up and pot it – that is the least I can do after such a valiant effort.