Tag Archives: garden

2005. Ornamental argument

Christine disliked garden ornaments immensely; ugly gnomes and pink flamingos, plastic things that spun in the wind, little tinkling bamboo and metal wind chimes… The unfortunate thing was that Joanne, Christine’s next door neighbour, loved garden ornaments.

“Her place,” said Christine of Joanne’s garden next door, “looks like a junk yard.”

“Her place,” said Joanne of Christine’s garden next door, “looks so bare and sterile.”

The time came at last when their differences could be decided officially. The city was organizing a street by street competition: which house in each street has the best garden? And then all those selected would go into the final part of the competition: who has the best garden in the whole city?

Joanne went all out. She purchased ceramic lizards and butterflies, outside wall mirrors that made the garden look more spacious than it was, little battery driven water fountains… On the other hand, Christine maintained her garden to perfection – the perfect lawn, not a weed in sight, the recycling bin in a hidden corner…

The garden judges came. The garden judges left. A winner was announced. Congratulations Cassandra.

2001. Share and share alike

Micky was an expert at growing dahlias. In fact he had two special varieties of dahlia that had been catalogued and “copyrighted” and were on the online dahlia market. There was a variety called “Peaches and Powder Milk” and another one called “Water Reflections”. To be honest they hadn’t sold particularly well, but in no way did that curb Micky’s enthusiasm for dahlia growing.

In the same area as Micky lived Kurt. He too was an enthusiastic dahlia grower. Unfortunately, despite numerous attempts, he had never developed a new variety of dahlia that was accepted by the International Royal Dahlia Society. Kurt was as jealous as can be of Micky.

When Micky had to move from the area (it was something to do with his wife needing to be closer to medical specialists) he dug up all his dahlia tuberous roots, labelled them carefully, and put them in boxes at his front gate. The sign said: HELP YOURSELVES! SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE! FREE TO A GOOD HOME!

When no one was watching, Kurt backed his pickup to Micky’s gate, loaded the lot, and took them to the dump.

1983. Bird of Paradise

Rita and Carmen had been best friends for years. They were both widowed, and both had three children and four grandchildren. They lived not far from each other. Every Wednesday, to prevent a certain humdrumness, they would go on an outing. Sometimes it was just a cup of coffee in a café in town. Sometimes it was a bigger event, such as a visit to the city art gallery or a concert. Today they were going to the Botanical Garden’s Tropical Conservatory.

“Would you look at this one,” said Rita. “Such a pretty little flower!”

“I would’ve missed it if you hadn’t pointed it out,” said Carmen. “Smell this one here. It stinks!” And indeed it did stick!

“Look at this Bird of Paradise flower. It does look like a bird, doesn’t it?”

“They say,” said Carmen enthusiastically because she knew a little about the Bird of Paradise plant, “that the flower produces no pollen, so it’s generally great to plant if people are worried about allergies. Not only that, but they say if you rub a leaf on the palm of your hand you feel compelled to blurt out the truth whether you want to or not.”

“That sounds a bit dangerous,” declared Rita, rubbing the palm of her hand on a leaf. “And I might add that the way you slurp your coffee makes me want to spit.”

“That’s nothing,” said Carmen. “When I was having an affair with your late husband he gave me your bank account number and password. You wouldn’t have noticed, because you’re too thick, but a bit here and a bit there goes a long way.”

“You strumpet!” declared Rita. “So you’re the crumpet he so disdainfully spoke about; how your breath reeked of garlic and you were in need of a hefty dose of deodorant.”

The insults continued for another five minutes. It was a weekly event. In fact, one suspected that both had prepared the insults to hurl well in advance.

1955. Daffodil order

Dear Sir/Madam,

For years now I have ordered my Spring bulbs from your once excellent online service. This year I ordered the newly developed daffodil bulbs that have brilliant white petals with a bright pink centre. I was quite excited to see the buds forming. Then when they flowered they were all bright yellow. It was such a disappointment.

I contacted your Complaints Department and they said that it was quite a few months since I had made the order. The replacement time had lapsed and I should have made the complaint about getting the wrong bulbs earlier. But I couldn’t, could I? Not until they flowered.

I ordered these special daffodil bulbs the week the doctor told me I have terminal cancer. This was to be my last Spring and the pink and white daffodils were to be one of the joys of the last Spring season I shall see. They were called Delnashaugh Daffodils. They cost me $79.99 for 30 bulbs. There’s no chance now of ever seeing these flowers in the real.

Now that the cancer has spread to my liver I found the yellow daffodils to be offensive and inconsiderate. There’s no need to offer to replace them. I’ll probably be dead even before they arrive in the mail. It is so upsetting to have my life end with such a disappointment.

My friend Rebecca is an enthusiastic gardener and I have included her full name and address, plus half a dozen names of other daffodil bulbs of various shapes and shades from your catalogue. She would appreciate getting them along with the 30 Delnashaugh Daffodil bulbs, and I would regard your sending them to her as adequate compensation for the gross error you made during my terminal illness.

Yours faithfully
Mrs M. McPherson

1930. A brief (and silly) floral reflection

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Willow knew a thing or two about gardening. In fact, Willow had taken night school classes in horticulture over a six week period; two hours each week at the local high school.

Willow’s friend was Michelle. Michelle didn’t have a clue about gardening but would go into her garden and plant things, and pull out weeds, and water this and that.

“I don’t have a clue what most of the flowers are called,” said Michelle, “but I know that they are very pretty.”

“You should go to night school like I did,” said Willow. “That way you’d learn something and be an expert and become a better gardener.”

“Look at these lovely crocuses!” exclaimed Michelle. “They flower in the Fall. They are different from the ones that flower in the Spring.”

“Don’t be silly,” said Willow. “Crocuses flower in the Spring. They are one of the first flowers to make an appearance after Winter. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Oh how shallow it is to be a night-school-class graduate-in-horticulture-over-a-six-week-period! Those who know everything know nothing. Willow knew it all. She had nothing in her garden. Michelle knew nothing. Her garden was a picture.

The End.

[I know some of you will be disappointed in the lack of excitement in today’s yarn. For those who prefer something spicier, here is an alternative ending:

Willow was consumed by jealousy over Michelle’s beautiful garden. After a friendly salad luncheon at Michelle’s place, Willow suddenly opened her purse and pulled out a pistol. She pulled the trigger and Michelle slumped to the ground. As Michelle lay dying she was heard to exclaim, “Ha! Ha! Ha! I poisoned the salad!”]

1885. Kent’s gabions

Kendall suggested to Kent that what his (Kent’s) back garden area needed was gabions. Kent’s back garden area was susceptible to flooding. By putting up gabions along the stretch of creek that ran along the bottom of the section, when it rained heavily the creek wouldn’t drown the garden he had so lovingly tended.

Gabions – in case you don’t know the word, as the writer at first didn’t – are basically a pile of rocks stuck inside a wire cage. They can look quite pretty. Artistic even.

Kent went even further. If he slightly dammed up the creek he might be able to use the water in the heat of summer to irrigate his plants. The dam wouldn’t be big of course. And he would be able to open it so that during a storm the water could flow naturally.

It was a lot of hard work, but Kent, with the help of his friend Kendall, created a flood-proof backyard complete with a little irrigation dam. It not only was practical, it also looked good.

One weekend, when Kent was away attending a gardening convention, it rained heavily. Kendall was on the ball. He went over to Kent’s house and opened the floodgates, just in case things flooded.

By evening the creek was a raging torrent. The gabions held the water at bay. There was no flooding in the garden! But my word! The streamlining of the water flow meant the water shot past at a terrific rate. It couldn’t spread out, so it sped up.

The neighbour’s back garden was completely flooded. The raging waters had simply washed all soil away to the sea or somewhere. There was nothing left but stones and rocks.

Rather quickly, Kent (with the aid of his friend Kendall) removed the gabions and dam and no one was the wiser.

1883. Garden tools

Let’s face it: Stella wasn’t a greedy person. She was a spinster, lived alone, and was retired. She had worked as a nurse all her life. She had looked forward to her retirement. “At last! After all these years I shall be able to potter all day in the garden!”

She owned her own home, and it had a fairly extensive garden. It was one of those gardens that looked bigger than it was. One could get lost in it. Go through a gap in the shrubbery and a new vista, a new “room”, was revealed. Stella had a “theme” for each area; vegetables, flowers for cut flowers, herbs, and so on. The problem was that Stella could live satisfactorily in retirement but there wasn’t much left over for much else. That was when her lawn mower broke down, her garden rake disintegrated, her hedge clippers fell apart. It seemed that at least half the garden tools had gone on strike.

It would be simple enough to replace a garden trowel or something, but to replace half the tools at once was a burdensome impossibility. Stella conceived a plan! She advertised through the local Garden Society that the following weekend she would have an “Open Garden”. It’s true! Stella’s garden was a picture. At her gate she would have a sign and an honesty tin with a slot cut in the lid: GARDEN SHOW: ENTRY BY GOLD COIN.

When it came to gardening Stella wasn’t simply a weed-puller; she was an artist. She arranged the watering can, and the wheel barrow, and the spade, and all the garden tools (even the broken ones), in a nonchalant way around the garden, as if to say the gardener was busy but had just taken a break for a cup of tea. It was artistic; it was… well… very Stella. The arrangement in the delphinium bed was perfect: all that the placing of the watering can and spade needed was a robin to perch on the spade handle to create a postcard scene!

The Saturday was sunny. Quite a crowd came on this first day. Stella didn’t want to appear to be nosy, but at the start she could hear the gold coins go clang as they were put in the tin at the gate. She knew the tin was collecting even more coins when it ceased to clang as if it was empty. What a successful day!

When she went to collect the honesty tin in the late afternoon it had been stolen. As had all her garden tools. Even her spade that awaited the perching robin had disappeared.

1876. Cosmos seed heads

You see those white cosmos flowers stuck in a little blue bottle? That’s the last of the cosmos in the garden. My wife planted them back in late autumn. She didn’t exactly plant them; she scattered the seed heads in a bare patch in the vegetable garden. They grew apace. Cosmos usually do. And when they began to flower they were all white. No pinks or any other shade. Just lovely white.

Wilmott had collected the seed heads when we went for a walk in the botanical gardens. That would almost be a year ago now. Usually the staff at the botanical gardens don’t leave plants in for long enough to develop into the seed stage. Perhaps they left these plants because they wanted to save the seeds. Anyway, Wilmott took just half a dozen heads. The gardeners wouldn’t know they were missing because there were hundreds of seed heads in the garden plot. That’s why we didn’t realize that the flowers would be all white. We never saw the cosmos in flower earlier on.

It’s quite illegal to take seeds or cuttings (or plants for that matter) from the botanical gardens. Imagine if everyone came along with their secateurs. The place would be denuded. I don’t know what would happen if we had been caught. Wilmott simply snapped the heads off with her fingers and quietly dropped them into the pocket of her cardigan. “We’ll find out what colour these are in the late spring,” she said.

When we got home (we usually went for a longish walk each day) Wilmott scattered the seeds in the garden, as I said earlier. She did that even before we went inside. And when we went inside she died. Suddenly. It was heart.

So you see those white cosmos flowers stuck in a little blue bottle? That’s the last of the cosmos in the garden. I could save the seed heads and begin the cycle again. Earlier I had decided I would do that, but now I think, goodness me, I can’t not move on forever.

1867. The life of a grasshopper sucks

(Note to faithful followers: After 7 years I’ve fiddled around with the “About” section, so it’s different in places. Some of you over the years have kindly given likes and some have kindly commented. If you want to change your comment or like because of the changes in the page please feel free. I’m happy (though sad) to delete your comment if you would want that. P.S. There’s no nudity on the page.)

Quite frankly the life of a grasshopper sucks. I’ve spend all summer hopping from dahlia flower to dahlia flower. I can eke out a living by sipping a bit of the scant amount of nectar in each bloom. Apparently that process helps with the fertilization of the seed head as well, but the lady who thinks she owns the garden keeps coming out of the house with secateurs and cutting the dead seed heads off. I feel redundant and useless.

And now look at me. Everything is dead and shrivelled up. There’s hardly a sip of anything left to survive on. I know I’ll die before winter is over, simply because of cold and starvation. Here’s a photo of me on a dead branch of Jerusalem artichoke.

As I said, it’s no fun being a grasshopper. There were three of us in this garden at the start of last summer and then there were two – just me and Mrs. Grasshopper. We had a clutch of eggs and out popped a multitude of offspring. One by one they seemed to disappear. There was a lot of competition for food, and sometimes I wondered if Mrs. Grasshopper wasn’t eating her own babies. But in the end I decided that was not the case. We’re not humans. We act responsibly. And then suddenly Mrs. Grasshopper herself disappeared.

The problem is our colour. We’re bright green and stick out like a sore thumb once the foliage dies off. Some insects change colour and survive, but we have not been blessed with that know-how. I suspect the local song thrush may have got Mrs. Grasshopper. That wretched thrush has been hanging around for months. It might be responsible for the missing children as well. There’s no warning. The thrush’s appetite seems to be voracious. It’s rapacious and vociferous. One minute you’re there looking for nectar and the next minute you’re

1842. A garden makeover

It was possibly the most exciting thing that had happened to Clarence in a long time. It had been a terrible year; a terrible, terrible year. And now this happened! How wonderful!

In January his wife had died after a long and painful illness. He had nursed her over the weeks. It had brought him to the edge of life. The only thing that kept him going was the thought that if he went there would be no one left to care for his wife. Their only child, a daughter, had long disappeared overseas in pursuit of an alternative lifestyle.

It’s amazing how sometimes lifelong friends abandon you in times of need. Only a few came to her funeral. Friends over the years had drifted away during his wife’s illness and proved themselves no friends at all. That hurt Clarence more than anything. In fact he had trouble drumming up enough pallbearers to carry the coffin.

Clarence thought that the only solace would be in his garden, but that had gone to wilderness during his wife’s illness. Somehow, after the funeral, the heart had gone out of the garden. Clarence tried to tidy it up a bit but he didn’t make much progress. And then he entered a competition for a free garden makeover. There were a number of conditions; the garden had to be substantial in size; the owner had to go away (all expenses paid) for a whole week while the garden got its makeover; the owner had to trust the garden designer’s ability to come up with a creative concept. Clarence thought he fulfilled all the conditions.

The phone went. It was the television company. They were to record the makeover. Clarence’s garden was on the shortlist. Would he mind the television cameras coming to film the garden before anything was done?

Next, a garden designer visited in person. She interviewed Clarence. What would Clarence like to see in the garden? Did he want a water feature? A patio/barbecue area? Trees to block out not the sun but the neighbour’s prying eyes?

Clarence said he’d like to be surprised. They could do with the garden whatever was creative, whatever would make it lovely. He had just the one request; his late wife’s name was Iris. Would it be possible to have a garden bed of irises in her memory? Of course it was! What a fantastic idea!

Anyway, Clarence’s garden wasn’t selected in the final choice, so none of the above mattered.