Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Well, I hope everyone enjoyed the Garden Media Guild luncheon today. I've been thinking of changing my deodorant because no one invited me. And being too much of a tight-wad to fork out my own ticket, I didn't go. All you lovely suppliers and hortifolk that I mention in the Mail and Garden News and other places, and who were at the lunch? Hope you enjoyed it. Meanwhile, I've I made a little list of the names!!

But I'm not sulking. I'm sure it was lovely nosh and there were obviously lots of gorgeous lovelies to talk to, but it was fine here, in the cold and snow, shivering, lunchless and so very, very, very lonely.

I had hoped to scoop the announcements of the GMG awards, but by 5pm. They still hadn't been posted. But congratulations to whoever won anything, anyway. I'm sure the awards couldn't have gone to better, nicer, more deserving. . . well, you know the sort of thing.

I took my baby brother to Wisley last week, for a seminar on Plectranthus. Despite being an RHS member, he had not yet seen the glasshouse. I think he was pretty impressed.

We were addressed, in the lecture room, by the bubbly and aromatic Jekka, who described Plectranthus as culinary and medicinal herbs. And then taught the basic taxonomy of the genus by Diana Miller, a botanist for whom most plantspeople have massive respect and who was Keeper of the Herbarium, at the RHS, before she retired. Her monograph Pelargoniums - you can get a copy here - is worth every penny.

When Diana had spelled out the anatomy of this plant group, we all wandered over to the glasshouse to be talked and walked through the collection. I left wanting to know a lot more, and also wanting to build a newer, bigger greenhouse, so I could accomodate more varieties. My favourite, for the day, was Plectranthus saccatus 'Wisteria' which you'll find illustrated here , I hope

The plants are dotted about but most are assembled in the corridor which leads from the main glasshouse to the service area. This is a fascinating and varied plant group and has particular attraction for me for several reasons:

1. They're smelly, and not always in a nice way - rather like salvias, hemp nettle most and other members of the deadnettle tribe, Lamiaceae. I derive a perverse, and probably perverted pleasure from sniffing such plants.

2. The are easy to grow, but challenging at the same time. Cuttings will root as soon as you drop them onto soil, but getting the little blighters to flower before November takes guts, pruning skills and a lot of good luck.

3. They dangle gracefully - no one could resist a delicately attenuated fop of a plant like these.

4. They come from Africa, mainly southern Africa - all of which is beautiful, gorgeous, fascinating and must be visited. Repeatedly.

5. The leaf colours and flower colours are subtle, seductive and charming.

The Picture is a Japanese chrysanthemum, at Wisley, snapped on my iPhone - whose camera is pants, as I believe I may have said before - on our way to the Plectranthus. Some of these classic Japanese varieties are superb. This one looked like granny's knickers after they'd got ripped up in the spin dryer.

I'm listening to the paint drying in my proper office - we've had the decorators in - and writing this on my knees in a cupboard which is serving as my 'jury rig office.'

This day last year my friends and I organised a special showing of Casablanca to other friends, who, we felt, needed a little cinematic education. I'm not sure that they were that impressed, but any excuse to watch Hollywood's greatest film ever, ever, ever!

This weeks film was The Wild Bunch. I'm not a massive Pekinpah fan, but love this dark tale of clapped out bandits. One of William Holden's greatest roles, I suspect, and what wonderful teaming with Ernest Borgnine!

I'm thinking of turning the 'this week's film' slot into a semi-regular, brief hagiography – or, from time to time, whatever the obverse is, of that term – of a person or persons who worked in films, and who I admire. Might be a runner.

Hope you don't get dyspepsia from the GMG lunch!
Toodle Oooh!


  1. You need to get on twitter then you would know all the gossip from the GMG awards - well that James won something

  2. We missed you, Nigel - and in our view, you should have won an award

  3. Sorry, that's not the royal we, but me, VP and Constant Gardener

  4. I think this blog should have won an award too.. not least one for the most enjoyable occasional rant!

    To make up for the fact that I would never be invited to the GMG awards I arranged a meet up with some blog pals at Wisley today. Even if I could get my car out of Brighton chances are I won't get it back in. In any event Wisley is closed due to snow.

    I can't get an idea of the size of those chrysanthemums from your pic. They look like they could be 3ft across! Big knickers indeed!

  5. PatientG - I suppose I should become a twit, but quail at the thought of all that texting. It would wear my thumbs out and I'm sure I'd take ages to learn the technology.

    Arabella - the horrormums are big but not THAT big - 20cms or more across, from memory, with a card thing beneath the bloom, to support the ray florets. They seem bigger, because of extreme ugliness, and on my iPhone camera, looked huge.
    Hope you stayed in Brighton, with Gatwick closed and people sleeping in their cars on the M25, it must be horrible.

    Victoria and, by proxy, VP and Constant Gardener, thank you. That's very sweet.

  6. Much asa I hate to disabuse the Patient Gardener I did not win anything yesterday. I was twice in the starting gate but both times a loser.
    I missed you there yesterday: you would have added much needed tone to the proceedings.
    Garden News won a hollow victory without you.

    I thought at first that your blog title was in Latin: a quotation from Ovid or something. Subsitute 'and' for 'et' and you will understand my confusion.

  7. you wuz robbed. As in fact you wuz last year too: I must find out who the judges are and have a stern word with them. Actually nobody invited me either but I went anyway. I wuz robbed also but with more reason.

    James however was walking around with a plastic bag full of those framed certificates you get when you're a finalist flashing them at anyone who looked his way.

    And Victoria is being far too modest being a Very Big Winner Indeed: she got Garden Journalist of the Year. Go Victoria!

  8. James - why didn't I think of that? horrormorum in iaundice et peucem - ha ha! More Livy than Ovid, probably!

    Victoria - HUGE congrats. What a star!

    Constant G - thanks!

    I no longer feel lonely, but just very, very, very cold. Also excited that soon I'll be released from my cupboard and will return to a beautifully decorated and bedizened office. It will be so sparkly that even my iPad will look shabby.

  9. Well I was only repeating what someone tweeted that James got an award - see you cant trust twitter but it is fun and the technology is simple, lots of nice people on there

  10. We missed you lots - particularly those of us on the table specially reserved for people who'd actually coughed up the cash.

    You'd have been on the rowdiest and most award winning table - we'll save you a seat next time and cheer when you win!

  11. First read of post by Eeyore; though a there seems to be a thaw.

    Was puzzled at first because I thought your picture was of a garden ceramic. Still bothered by the idea of a flower that needs a bit of card under it.