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Much leisure time is spent in individualistic pursuits, of which the most popular is gardening. Most English people love gardens, their own above all, and this is probably one reason why so many people prefer to live in houses rather than flats. Particularly in suburban areas it is possible to pass row after row of ordinary small houses, each one with its neatly-kept patch of grass surrounded by a great variety of flowers and shrubs. Many people who have no gardens of their own have patches of land or "allotments" in specially reserved areas - though a group of allotment gardens, with its mixed-up collection of sheds for keeping the tools and the dull arrangement of the rectangular sections of land, is usually not a thing of beauty. Although the task of keeping a garden is so essentially individial, for many people gardening is the foundation of social and competitive relationships. Flower-shows and vegetable-shows, with prizes for the best exhibits, are immensely popular, and to many gardeners the process of growing the plants seems more important than the merely aesthetic pleasure of looking at the flowers or the prospect of eating the vegetables. In many places a competitive gardener's ambition is to grow the biggest cabbages or leeks or carrots, and the plain fact that the merits of most vegetables on the table are in inverse ratio to their size seems often to be forgotten.

(Life in Modern Britain by P. Bromhead)

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