A Plant Blether
There's nothing like buying a plant
to put you in the mood for a spot of gardening, is there? I'm fond of those
plant stalls that you find at markets and car boot sales because you never know
what you might come across and the plants are usually quite cheap.
In the past I've sold plants at car boot sales myself, five or six pounds for a
pitch, forty or fifty plants - maybe more - neatly labeled in smart pots, a
flask of coffee and a tasty sandwich, then 'Bob's your Uncle', simply watch the
cash roll in, or that's the theory anyway, though in reality it doesn't always
work like that, not if there's inclement weather to keep the plant buying public
at bay, or an alternative attraction elsewhere (an international football match
on the television perhaps). If so, you might be lucky to cover your costs. I
find it's best to treat these things as a social event myself, an opportunity
for a good blether with old friends - blether, blether, blether - and a chance
to catch up on the local gossip.
If you intend to sell plants yourself on a regular basis of course, then there
are some pitfalls to be aware of.
"You sold me a Geum last time," one
man bellowed at me across the table, "only it was an Oriental Poppy!"
Easy mistake to make. Best apologize when this happens, smile pleasantly, defer
to the customer's expert opinion (he was probably right anyway), offer a
replacement, chat pleasantly about the weather, go for the 'distraction'
"And what about the Lupin that should have been red, it was lime green!!"
"Well obviously a mutation, obviously, obviously, very rare indeed."
This said with a smile. "Weren't you
the lucky one?"
And then of course there was the woman who wanted worms.
"Do you sell worms?" she enquired.
"Worms for the garden?"
Do people really buy worms? Was she
"No, sorry, don't do worms."
I enjoy a good browse around the plant stalls myself, always on the look out for
plants with potential. I remember one occasion particularly well. (A car boot
sale, Inverness, one Saturday morning). I was studying the horticultural
display on the table in front of me - and paying particular attention, in fact,
to some brown vegetation cascading down the side of a pot in a limp and dead
sort of way - when the stallholder caught my eye.
"Good plant, that," he said, "looks half-dead now, you know, half-dead, but you
should have seen it yesterday, looked fully dead then, fully dead. Dug it up
myself, fine specimen, fifty pence to you, sir"
Well what's the world coming to, I asked myself, when somebody wants fifty pence
for a dead plant? And worse still, I paid fifty pence for it too. He was very
persuasive, you see, I didn't like to say no. Of course he could have been
right, couldn't he? Maybe it wasn't dead at all - or even half dead for that
matter - but simply in need of some tender loving care.
So I took it home, planted it, administered tender loving care and then awaited
signs of revival.
Over the next few days, however, my initial suspicions were confirmed. I'd
bought a dead plant and paid good money for it too. Well what can you say to
that? 'Good Heavens' about sums it up, doesn't it?
(Copyright: Patrick Vickery)
Tomato Blether - January, 2002
Tree Blether - February, 2002
Hare Blether - March, 2002
A 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 Compost Blether - December, 2002
A Copper Beech Blether (or a chainsaw pruning!) - January,
A Heron Blether - February, 2003
A Bergenia Blether - March, 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.