Gardens Ablaze

A Gardening Blether
Monthly Column by Patrick Vickery
February, 2003

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A Heron Blether

I know a bus driver called Rocky.  Rocky has two dogs, Ricky and Reggie, and a cat called Buster.  Rocky, Ricky, Reggie and Buster. It has a solid ring to it, don't you think? Something of a London Gangland feel, from another era, the nineteen-sixties perhaps?

Rocky lives in the suburbs of Inverness and has a wonderful rambling garden.   Not too neat, not too wild, just perfect for a spot of pottering about and being 'at one' with nature, and just the sort of garden that I would wish to have if I lived in town - a pond, a shed, a compost heap, garden chairs, a table to accommodate a bottle of wine after an arduous day's work in the garden, a greenhouse, somewhere for the kids to play and a woodland area at the far end to get away from it all and commune with nature. Perfect.

Now Rocky had a problem with his pond. It was well-stocked with fish, you see (Japanese Koi), when a local heron of the district flew in and scoffed the lot. Now Rocky was not pleased with this, no, in fact he was distraught. And what do you do when something like that happens? Shoot it, I suppose, although that's hardly the done thing in today's society, is it? No, you can't be doing that sort of thing in the suburbs - shooting indigenous wildlife - whatever next. But you can't really blame him for considering the idea, albeit briefly, now can you?

Then Rocky hit upon a solution: a solution given to him by one of his fare-paying passengers as he was bemoaning the plight of his Japanese Koi and ranting on delirious about the need to relocate the entire heron population of Inverness to the Shetland Islands.

'Git a plastic one, Rocky," said the fare-paying passenger, "that should do the trick. Git a plastic heron." ('Git', of course, in this context should be 'get' - for that's what he meant - only 'git' is what he said, which fits in neatly with the London gangland 'feel' mentioned earlier, don't you think?)  "Git a plastic one."

Brilliant, thought Rocky, just the thing, so he popped down to the Garden Centre to buy himself a plastic heron.

Now it came in a box, you see, this plastic heron, a sort of 'do-it-yourself' kit, fifteen pounds, very realistic, and in five pieces: torso, two legs (one folded and one extended), a head and a length of dowelling to stick up its nose with feathers on the other end that flapped in the wind. What a brilliant idea.

"Stand by Garden Pond," said the instruction manual. "Deters all herons."

Rocky was ecstatic. But unfortunately there was a problem.  It didn't work, you see, that was the problem, not in Rocky's case anyway (which isn't to say - before any plastic heron manufacturing company decides to sue me - that it won't work for anybody else). No, the real heron wasn't deterred by this at all - useless in fact - and if anything visited Rocky's garden on a more regular basis than before.  Rocky was not amused.

"Git a plastic heron, my foot!" he muttered to himself (or words to that effect) as the two birds snuggled into each other beside the pond.

As a temporary solution to this problem and just for the time being, nothing permanent, he opted to forgo Japanese Koi and make do with dwarf water lilies and marginal plants instead. But what to do with a redundant plastic heron? Far too expensive to throw away. And then he hit upon the ingenious idea of recycling it - an idea given to him by one of his fare-paying passengers as he ranted on delirious one morning about wasting good money on plastic herons.

"Bury it, Rocky," said the fare-paying passenger, "upside down, neck deep, drill holes in its bottom, grow flowers 'out it', trailers, ivies and the like, an horticultural innovation."

What a brilliant idea, thought Rocky, and so that's what he did.  Indeed, so enthusiastic was he with this idea that he popped down to the garden centre to buy himself a plastic gnome for similar purposes.

So there you are. All's well that ends well. And if the sight of two
protruding bottoms - heron and gnome - with accompanying foliage doesn't keep the local heron population at bay, then nothing will.

 (Copyright: Patrick Vickery)


A Tomato Blether - January, 2002

A Tree Blether - February, 2002

A Hare Blether - March, 2002

A Surreal Blether - April, 2002

A Slug Blether - May, 2002

A Goat Blether - June, 2002

A Half-Man, Half-Garden Blether - July, 2002

A Blaze Blether - August, 2002

An Inanimate Object Blether - September, 2002

A Notable Quotable Blether - October, 2002

A Plant Blether - November, 2002

A Compost Blether - December, 2002

A Copper Beech Blether (or a chainsaw pruning!) - January, 2003

A Bergenia Blether - March, 2003

A Rose Blether - April, 2003

A Critter Blether - August, 2003

Blether Home


Patrick Vickery is a garden writer who lives in the Scottish Highlands.  He runs a small perennial plant nursery and has one book published to date: 'In Pursuit Of Perennial Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden' (Capall Bann Publishers. ISBN: 186163 1480), a 'How To' book about the propagation of hardy perennial plants in an environmentally friendly way, and how to make your garden productive in a variety of ways for both expert and gardening enthusiasts alike - at minimum cost and in an innovative and exciting way.  And - of course - how to sell the plants you grow (should you wish to) to raise money (not a fortune) for yourself or a particular charity or cause. 


Patrick is married with three children, lives in a two acre wood in a wonderful part of the world, uses a raised bed system of propagation and has two dogs, a cat and two goats. His second book - 'Gardening Tales - Blethers and Grunts' - a collection of anecdotal tales concentrating on the more humorous side of gardening (particularly the things that go wrong!) has recently been completed.


Patrick's book can be bought from an absolutely fascinating website full of gardening, herbal, mystical, and magical books that one would never find anywhere else.  The address is

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