Friday, 21 May 2010


First, an apology for being so neglectful of everyone's blog posts. I'm hopelessly behind. Sorry, sorry, sorry. But the pressure is on - to finish all my copy before going to Chelsea tomorrow and the Far East a few days after that. Help!!!!!!!!

A couple of questions:

1. Why aren't gnomes allowed at Chelsea? Who is the Papal decree maker who decides on what the Nation's gardening tastes should be? I personally hate the things - even more than I hate caramel heucheras - but I would defend, valiantly, the rights of Gnome Man to stock his front garden with the little pot hideosities if he so wishes, and of course, I hugely respect La Sock's curious dalliances with foliages of dubious colour and provenance. Let the gnomes come forth, say I. Let them join those chicken wire ducks, unnaturally goodie-goodie stone children and repulsive concrete copies of the fabulous works of odd Greek bods like Praxiteles.

Papaver orientale 'Saffron' - no good if you hate orange!

2. How long has it taken the Conliberative Government to go completely off the rails and run away to La-La land? The answer - 14 days. It started so well. HIPs are gone, hurrah! No nasty Big Brother I/D cards - double hurrah! Swingeing capital gains and other tax hikes for us poor middle-road-middle-socioeconimical suckers - boo, bugger and bother! Oooh the pain, when you're ageing and looking forward to a trashed pension. But we know some poor sod's got to pay up for the Bankers' cock-ups, and subsequent gross mismanagement of our economy. But now the New Ticks have gone too far.

I heard at 5.45 this morning on BBC Farming Today that the badger cull is on again. So as well as drastically cutting the badger population in the West of England, Bovine TB will be signficantly increased in the future. The disease is horrific and costly but culling Badgers, as has already been demonstrated in scientifically conducted trials, doesn't work.

What is desperately needed is a TB vaccine that works effectively, for cattle. But before that, what is even more desperately needed is a quick, accurate blood test which will produce an instant, reliable result. That's where the money and energy needs to be spent. Culling badgers is a destructive and pointless activity. Doing it leads to perturbation, where badger communities are broken up and where massive re-distributions follow, with animals moving far greater distances than is normal, thereby spreading the disease ever further.

And my big worry is that it's being instigated, not because Clegmeron really believes it will work, but as a kept promise to an influential Farmers Lobby which punches grossly above its weight and is essentially Tory - and that's despite farming enjoying heftily socialistic support in the form of around £3billion in subsidies. (America does something similar, I believe.)

Nice Things. The first rose is out this morning. A climbing 'Cecile Brunner' - pink, petite in flower but rampant in habit - just what you need, in a good climber.

The first poppies opened a week or so ago. Welsh poppies, orange and yellow forms, compete with greater celandine, thistles and groundsel in our yard. The first field poppies, too, are opening and we've a white one among the reds. But the star is Papaver orientale 'Saffron' whose petals are the hue of a Buddhist Monk's robe.

Other lovelies, noted on a pre-breakfast garden stoll - or rather, a hobble - include blue Corydalis elata which has delicious coconut fragrance, Paeonia cambessedesii which is tiny but exquisite, pink cow parsley and pale blue camassias in the mini-meadow. Things are burgeoning all right. Such a sin to go to the tropics, when England is so heavenly.

Paeonia cambessedesii - petite but perfect, in a blotchy pink sort of way.

Swallows and a blackbird are nesting in the garage - and crapping all over the car. And my first cucumber, in Wendy, (no double entendre intended) is ready to pick for today's lunch.

I'm listening to the PG, banging pans about in the kitchen unnecessarily loudly, to send up the message that her breakfast coffee is overdue, and I'm on coffee-making duty.

This week's film was a short. A 42 minute gem by Jonathan Miller who adapted the MR James story, Whistle and I'll Come to You. Here's what I wrote in my ordinary pen and paper diary:
‘Who is he who will come?’ - chilling words, inscribed on the wooden whistle. The ‘on-the-nose' narrative goes like this: ageing academic unearths a relic in a disused cemetery which invokes an unwelcome reincarnation. But the spine and message of the tale says: if you’re a smug, self-satisfied pedant with fixed ideas and an overweening sense of your own intellectual superiority, you may be in for an extremely nasty surprise.

This Day in 1991 I was filming with BBC on the Chelsea Programme. I had to interview Anne Hitchcock of Three Counties Nursery about her pinks. In my diary I wrote in praise of the BBC Cameraman, one Nigel Davey, describing him as 'approachable and very open to ideas.'

See you at Chelsea!


  1. That's the trouble with the ConDem or ConLib coalition (really - they should have known better when they realised there was no way to avoid it sounding like a scam or a prophylactic) - there is no getting away from the fact it is mostly peopled by Tories.

    Still, it could be worse, it could be entirely peopled by Tories.

    Have you made that coffee yet?

  2. Interesting how the things we want - like abolition of HIPs and ID cards get lots publicity but other things like badger cull little - obviously their PR people are burying bad news amongst good news stories

  3. Clearly, a gnome must be smuggled INTO Chelsea. If I were going, I'd do it. But I'm not. So it looks like it's up to you. That is your mission, should you choose to accept it.

  4. Remember the farmer who put out a mineral lick for his cows....and one for his badgers too. Result, a TB free island surrounded by infected herds....
    Also TB can be a result of deficiency caused by overstocking an area. Isn't it the same for people?