Garden School:


Garden School:
Teaching this week: Rose pruning (as always!) and water management

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

What do you get....

... if you eat Christmas decorations?

OK, I admit it, there's not so much going on in the garden this week: it's nearly Christmas, I have officially stopped work for the holidays, so what can I talk about here, to keep you all interested? I've decided to treat you to a series of terrible Christmas jokes, courtesy of my Malteasers Advent Calendar - a small piece of chocolate and a dreadful pun for every day of the run-up to Christmas, which should keep us going until I get back to work. And I'll try to add some gardening content as well... honest!

Traditionally, the gardening columns say things like "winter is a great time for looking at seed catalogues" but they don't thrill me: most of the photos are unrealistically beautiful, many of them are, if not actually air brushed, artificially boosted (for instance, by bundling together a dozen blooms, when you know that in fact they flower in sequence, so you are unlikely to get more than one at a time from any one plant), and they are certainly presented in the best possible flattering-colour-filtered way.

Also, I know from experience that many of those exotic beauties simply won't survive in the cold damp soil of Oxfordshire... not to mention the fact that most of my Clients don't want to spend a lot of money on something that might or might not survive - they generally like tried-and-trusted plants that can be relied on to perform.

Talking of which, a while back, a kind Client gave me a huge stack of Garden magazines - the RHS monthly journal - going back over ten years. I sorted them into month and year order, and have spent the last two years working my way through them. The older ones, I have to say, are SO MUCH better than the current ones.  There is a lot of talk of dumbing down these days, and these magazines really prove it. The earlier ones used to take me weeks to read (I tend to read them only while stuffing down my lunch, so I only get 20 mins a day at them), and I would constantly be reaching for the scissors to cut out articles of interest to go in my scrapbooks and ideas books.

The later ones, and particularly this year and last year, can be flipped through in ten minutes, and I have not cut out and kept a single article. They have page after page of truly beautiful, huge, pictures, but not a lot of actual content. RHS, are you listening? You are supposed to educate and enthuse us, not entertain us with pretty pictures.

My point, however, is the realisation that so many of the "new" plants featured over the years in these magazines have simply fallen by the wayside.

All of them were hailed, at the time, as the latest, greatest, bestest thing - hardy, long-lived, long flowering season, disease-resistant, drought-hardy, perfect for this that and the other: but now they have sunk without trace. I do have one Client who likes to experiment, and who is always buying those "special offers" that you see in the papers, but I can't think of one plant, off-hand, that has survived longer than a year or two, or which has really impressed us with its flowering capacity.

And this is why I don't ever fizz with enthusiasm for "new" plants, I prefer to wait and see if anyone actually grows one locally, before I would consider recommending it to my Clients.

So no, I don't get much of a thrill from looking at seed catalogues at this time of year.

Now, what was today's Terrible Christmas Joke?

What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations?

Tinselitis.

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