Gardens Ablaze

A Gardening Blether
Monthly Column by Patrick Vickery
March, 2003

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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)


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 Heron Blether - February, 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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