July 2009


Gawd I’m knackered. I was up till silly o’clock this morning doing a garden design for a RHS 2012 Olympics competition.

I still didn’t get it finished, so there I was first thing this morning blearily colouring the design. Despite virtually every pencil I had needing sharpening I got it done and in the post, so that it will make tomorrow’s deadline.

I don’t suppose anything will come of it, but who knows. To be honest it was nice just to be doing something creative.

If I did win it would be overwhelmingly amazing.

But you have to keep things in perspective.

If a miracle happened and I did win I would still trade it all for 15 minutes with my friend, who died suddenly four years ago today.

His life was snuffed out at 36, leaving behind two children under three. I miss him “improving the town with his attache case”. I won’t explain what that means, it would take too long, and there’d still only be two people who’d get it.

Hopefully the other is looking down from his cloud and smiling.


Of course we have to wait till September for the result of RHS exams, but as if that wasn’t enough cause to worry, our tutor has resigned.

The college have said they are trying to find a replacement, but what if they don’t?

I’m trying not to think about it and have instead started work on my notes for the next module.

Someone who has recently got the qualification tells me that I need to get hold of a specific book called Soil by Ken Simpson . She added that it is out of print, but in demand, so that if you can get one for under a tenner it’s a bargain, under twenty is reasonable, but over this is robbery.

I would have to agree, after all it’s only about 250-odd pages long and you could photocopy the whole thing for that. Although that’s probably not legal, even if it is for education purposes.

Life is never simple.

Woodwork is not one of my strong points.

In fact, I consider anything involving it a success if I have finished it with a full compliment of fingers.

So this weekend I decided to build a new potting bench for the greenhouse. The combination of saws, powertools, long bits of wood and a building made entirely of glass had disastrous mishap written all over it. But, it’s built. What’s more, it doesn’t wobble and is level (ish).

I am amazed and a little bit smug.

All that’s left is to put a shelf underneath between the legs.

However, this might prove problematic as Little Boots has already taken to sitting underneath, on one of the crosspieces, and telling me what a brilliant camp I’ve made, and can I put a door on it.

It’s important to have dreams and ambitions. Even little foolish ones.

In fact especially little foolish ones.

I have a desire to make a green roof, on either the outside loo, or the shed. Actually where I really want it is on top of the bespoke funky garden office that I would have if I had pots of money.

Whether I ever have a green roof, modest or otherwise remains to be seen. If I do ever get one I’d like it to consist entirely of plants I’ve propagated.

To that end I’ve been slowly building up a collection of succulents.

I suspect that the green roof may never materialise and that all that will happen is that I end up with the biggest collection of houseleeks in the county.

An earlier post referred to the library. I spent a few days in there revising during the last couple of weeks.

As a respite (and classic piece of displacement activity) I’d put together a post about some of the library loonies who disrupted my studies. Alas my laptop has died and the item is gone forever, which is perhaps just as well.

Luckily the thing went kaput the day after my exam.

Being without either portable internet access, or revision to do has proved an unexpectedly liberating sensation. Yesterday, for the first time in ages, I was actually reading a novel.

Great feeling – it won’t last.

When younger, Little Boots used to have a peculiar verbal habit.

Sometimes when faced with a new word that proved difficult to grasp, a well-known word would be used instead.

The habit has faded away, but some words have stuck so that this weekend we found ourselves off to “Lesley”.

The name belongs to the marvellous person who runs the nursery LB went to. And it’s the name we have come to use for the RHS garden near Woking (mind you it also gets called Wizzles sometimes) .

We make an annual pilgrimage there to meet up with friends who live close by.

Unlike the days either side, the weather was good and the rain stayed off. The garden was staging a soft fruit weekend, which was a lucky coincidence. Little Boots enjoyed the entertainment provided by Chip and Snip, “The Garden Barbers”, (although the grown ups are the ones still singing their bloody theme tune), everyone enjoyed the fruit tasting, and I was terribly rude and sloped off from the picnic to listen to one of the talks.

During the afternoon I was amazed to come across a Fuchsia I liked (“Dying Embers“), as they normally leave me cold.

And as always the plant centre proved all too tempting and despite leaving behind some plants that I now wish I’d bought, I did spend far more than I ought.

Still as the proverb goes…..

“When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one and a lily with the other.”



My RHS3 exam is history.

Not sure how well I did. I made up a new type of plant cell and suggested some novel and radically inventive treatments for scale insect, so perhaps I may have to re-sit the thing. But at least for now, it’s over.

It wasn’t all tension, anticipation and worry though.

Whilst revising from my notes in the local library I came across this on the common/Latin names of weeds……

 Capsella bursa-pastoris – Shepherd’s purse

Cardamine hirsuta – Hairy purse

It should of course be hairy bittercress, but Hairy Purse had me laughing out loud, which was not popular in the library .

I mean, Hairy Purse! It’d make a great euphemism. In fact I might start using it.

Oh that RHS exam, it has a lot to answer for.

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