He Straightened His Copernicum Cufflinks


Some of you may have arrived here after being bossily told to by the duty stewards at my .me Blog.I have decided the time has come to permanently migrate my Blog over here. I know many of you prefer the other site. I believe it was described as a battered paperback by one illustrious correspondent. But, the fact is that, the host site is getting very slapdash, comments don’t always work, it is slow to load etc, etc, etc. I have tolerated such behaviour because it is really very easy to use and I am one of those sad folk who are convinced that all things Apple are perfect but enough is enough.

So…now you are here please make full use of the facilities and make yourselves at home: there is an open bar and clean towels in every room. I hope that you will get used to the new surroundings very soon.However, as I know that some people are reluctant to leave I will carry on in both places until the New Year so you can slowly accustom yourselves to the modern world.  Only then I will finally turf out the laggers and tear-gas any remaining protestors. Does that seem fair and reasonable? Archives will remain here for the chronically nostalgic.


Okay. I have a serious matter to raise with you. I hope that you are all aware of the good Doctor Noel Kingsbury’s Blog. He is an erudite fellow well versed in botany, knitwear and other stuff – including, if the picture is to be believed, aerobic exercise. He wrote something of great interest the other day, I quote

The perennial revolution marches on! The Czechs and Slovaks are now doing research into public use of perennials, very much inspired by the German randomised mixing technique. Extremely interesting afternoon at the Landscape Dept. of the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra….

Reading Prof. Hallova’s research I realise that she’d brought up an issue none of the rest of us have ever considered – that plants engage in chemical warfare through ‘allelopathy’ amongst themselves and that this impacts on planting combinations, so for eg. nepeta and euphorbia suppress the growth of asters and geraniums.

I think this is fascinating: I have often noticed how some plants begin to dominate borders, elbowing out their fellows. I thought that this was mostly down to either (a) bad husbandry or (b) lousy plant choice in the first place. Apparently this may not be the case: instead there is some vicious internecine warfare going on in our borders. It is like the Borgias meet Rambo down there at soil level with plants running around swearing and knifing each other. The upshot of this information is that we should not really plant the garden equivalent of the Jets with the Sharks nor the Rebel Alliance up close to the Sith Lords. Instead we must only plant things that share nicely and are kind to each other.

Maybe it is not all my fault after all.

That is probably enough botany for one day: keep an eye on the Doctor for further information.I am sure that his chum Professor Hallova will, in due course, provide a list. I always thought that Euphorbias looked a bit shifty and untrustworthy and what else could one expect from Catmint but deceit?

I have visited two interesting gardens recently. Firstly the garden of Tom Stuart-Smith for the benefits of the readers of the English Garden. I like Tom and love his gardens: he is, however, extremely brainy and sophisticated so I sometimes feel a little like Peter Andre in conversation with Dr Jonathan Miller. Nobody else would design a sequence of water jets in his pond based on Wagnerian semitonal variations or say things like “May and June are so busy I never have time to play my violin”. Somehow I don’t think David Domoney often says that sort of stuff. His garden, by the way, is fabulous (Tom’s, not David Domoney’s).

The second garden was Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury. You may well have come across these gardens before because the owners are known for gardening naked. They, Ian and Barbara Pollard, were delightful, charming and mostly dressed. I was definitely prepared to happily shed my clothes had I been invited but it was a bit parky and I thought it best to wait until asked rather than appearing naked from the car park. I have only once done public nudity: on a beach in the South of France. It was not really a life changing moment for either the other beach people or me. I have probably left it too late now as my former tautness is beginning to slip and it would definitely more public spirited to leave my trousers firmly zipped and belted. Still, it was an opportunity sadly missed as I doubt that many Gardens Illustrated garden visits are conducted naked. and it is always interesting to give the readers a little extra. I have a slight concern, however, about the actual practical process of gardening without clothes: especially in a garden as full of roses as this one. There are over two thousand mass planted roses arranged according to height rather than colour. I am a little sceptical about this aspect as it could make a rather jarring and garish fruit salad effect but I reserve judgement until I go back there in the summer (with or without clothes). They even gave me a book.

Since then I have danced until 3AM – which does not happen nearly often enough. Partly because DJs insist on playing ghastly music that they think is suited to people “of our age”: I do not wish to hear any ABBA, Hi-Ho Silver Lining or, indeed, Brown Sugar ever again (there is too much teenage trauma wrapped up in the latter) but also because it takes two days to recover.

I am now going to Cornwall for the rest of this week. I fear it may rain: a lot.

Don’t forget, new Blog house over here.

For some unexplainably ghastly reason I am listening to Terry Jacks singing Seasons in the Sun. A tear is trickling down my cheek.

“We had joy, We had fun, We had Seasons in the sun, But the Stars we could reach were just Starfish on the beach”.

How could you not weep?

The picture is of Liquidambar styraciflua.