A Bergenia Blether
A number of years ago now - as a
child - I remember moving into a new house and with it acquiring a considerable
garden that over-looked the river.
One side of this garden was bounded by leylandii hedging that separated us from
our neighbour, an eccentric naval officer (retired) called Mr. Leggett, a man
passionate about drinking, playing bridge and tending to his lawn - a lawn,
incidentally, that he kept well groomed and immaculate for he spent long hours
digging clover and daisies from it with a knife and fork. But he had another
passion as well, a passion manifested during night-time hours and one which gave
rise to some concern in our household: a passion for shooting rabbits. Nothing
disturbing about that of course, no, not unless you're a rabbit, only this was
conducted by searchlight (ex-Navy surplus, I suspect, or possibly
'requisitioned' from a Gun Boat or a Destroyer) and swivel mounted to the ledge
outside his bedroom window.
And so, with an air rifle attached to his upper body, and clad only in
pyjamas, he took well-illuminated pot shots at startled rabbits on the lawn.
His aim was invariably inaccurate, I recall, complimented no doubt by numerous
gin and tonics, and as a consequence many pellets passed straight through the
hedge and into our greenhouse. Some of these rogue pellets even had the audacity
to pass through both walls of the greenhouse and mutilate a
giant Bergenia Cordifolia ('Elephant's Ears') on the other side. Strangely
enough, though, the pellets didn't break the glass at all, no, not a single
pane, but bored perfect holes straight through them. As you might imagine my
father was not amused by this situation, no, in fact he was furious.
In this day and age, of course, the spectre of 'Garden Rage' might manifest
itself in an ugly scene over the garden fence after such unneighbourly conduct,
perhaps even a slap on the head with a mutilated Bergenia, but this was in more
tolerant times: times when public rage was something akin to an admission of
mental incapacity and a diplomatic word or two over the garden fence was more
readily employed to resolve such matters.
Mind you, I never did discover what was said all those years ago over the garden
fence, but night-time warfare against rabbits ceased and the greenhouse acquired
new glass, so whatever it was, it must have been effective.
(Copyright: Patrick Vickery)
Tomato Blether - January, 2002
Tree Blether - February, 2002
Hare Blether - March, 2002
Surreal Blether - April, 2002
Slug Blether - May, 2002
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,
A Heron Blether - February, 2003
A Rose Blether - April, 2003
A Critter Blether - August, 2003
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 www.capallbann.co.uk.