The thing about blogging is that you get to meet some really interesting people. People who live in exotic places and do fascinating things. People who can take photographs most amateur photographers would die for and write posts which seem to compress a mountain of wisdom on a single blade of grass. People who can make you laugh or make you cry; people who can please you, tease you and freeze you with fear; and people who can grow the most amazing fruit and vegetables. Even after generations of servitude in the urban working class there must be still be something of the rural peasant in me because it is the latter category - the growers and the pruners - whose skills I most covet. Sadly, gardening and I don't mix. I have the capacity to kill most living things - of the plant variety I stress - with nothing more than a glance in their direction. Although we have a small garden I happily pay someone to tidy it up every few weeks. Whatever is at the opposite pole to green in the colour spectrum is where I can be found.
My lack of botanical skills does not mean that I am happy to be seen as being horticulturally challenged. I can spin a line as well as the next man or woman. I can exchange notes on how my apples are growing (indeed I think I have got an apple tree in the garden somewhere but I have forgotten where it is), or I can talk-up the size of my potatoes with the enthusiasm of a life-long lover of chips. But there comes a time when you need a little bit of extra proof.
I was pondering on this problem the other day when I remembered a story about the Professor of Botany at my old University. This was back in the 1960s and in Britain at the time there was a popular radio programme called "Gardeners' Question Time" (it is probably still going on for all I know). Back then one of the star experts of the show was Professor Alan Gemmel who was the Professor of Botany at Keele University. Each week he would entertain his millions of listeners with his vast knowledge of all things botanical and stories about his delightful and ever-fruitful garden. Back then, Keele was a bit of an odd place where all the students and all the staff lived on campus and whilst the staff houses did have gardens, in reality Prof Gemmel wasn't a particularly keen gardener. All went well until one day a coach full of his most devoted female fans turned up at the university intent on a tour of his garden. As luck would have it his next door neighbour - the Professor of Mathematics - was a keen amateur gardener and therefore his garden was borrowed for the day.
I was able to bring my own plan to fruition (if you will excuse the pun) on Sunday when we visited our friends who live in the country and have a garden that is as capacious as it is fertile. I raced around the flower beds and the vegetable plots taking photograph after photograph. I collected enough visual ammunition to keep me going for months. It wasn't until we were well on our way back home that I realised that I had forgotten to find out the names of all the things I had photographed, This, I suspect, slightly devalues my plan. But maybe it is still worth a try.
So, my blogging friends, my first picture today shows some things hanging from a tree (or a bush?) whilst the second picture shows something or other I have just pulled out of the earth. Hope you like them.