Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Things Hanging From A Tree

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.


  1. Our plums are rotting on the tree and the greengages are finished. This is the first time I've ever eaten a greengage, and I'm now addicted.

  2. I guess it's what sales gurus love to call 'low hanging fruit'. Gardening is something on a level with car washing for me; I hate it but like seeing the finished product.

  3. Fun post--I found the solution to your dilemma (also being agriculturally challenged): I married a woman who's a fantastic gardener!

  4. When I first saw the horticultural theme and the pictures of things hanging from a tree and the thing that you pulled up out of the ground, I suspected that I might be bored.
    Oh me of little faith. I laughed out loud. My gardening expertise is limited to: If it's indoors, water when it starts to go limp, feed when encountering the plant food at the back of the cupboard under the stairs; if it's outdoors and it has flowers, it's not a weed (except dandelions), if it looks a bit tired or overgrown either rip it up in handfuls or hack it down with shears, keeping an eye out for the lions in the long grass.
    But I much prefer your approach.

  5. Bill : I wouldn't recognise a greengage if it bought me a drink in a pub.
    John : "Low hanging fruit" I must remember that one, it sounds like a useful catch-all of a term.
    John H : Sadly I didn't but I have just noticed that I did marry her 36 years ago today. What a shame that there are no flowers in the garden.
    Kabbalah : I love your gardening instructions. I will print them out and keep them near the back door.

  6. Anonymous6:24 PM

    Alan, while I'm not privy to all things green, my thumbs do retain their green colour. The plums look wonderful and I'd have nicked a few-LOL! Didn't know the second one 'til I saw Chairman Bill's comment( thank you sir ); don't think my local grocery carries that, wot?

  7. Yes, I say those are gorgeous plums...I wish I had that tree in my yard! And the last photo is rhubarb? Mmmm....how about I make a pie? :)

  8. while i love plants and the outdoors it would have to be a rather rough plant for me to make it live it seems...i leave the garden to T after I break the soil...unless of course it is time to eat...

  9. Bah. Now I'm hungry!

  10. I've never heard of a greenage let alone eaten any. Looks like Silver Beet to me (probably the only thing I can grow!). I have a peach, mandarin and orange tree in the back yard but the cockatoos decimate all three just to get to the pips! I'd rather have the cockatoos but they're not good eating.

  11. I suspect the great Chairman was making a general comment about greengages rather than speculating on the antecedents of the thing that was pulled from the ground. I have re-checked with my friend whose garden I borrowed and he tells me it is Swiss Chard! (whatever that might be)

  12. Anonymous9:11 AM

    Ah, Swiss Chard I have heard of; just didn't know wot the thing looked like...

  13. Anonymous4:10 PM

    Cool story as for me. It would be great to read something more concerning that topic. Thanx for posting this info.
    Joan Stepsen
    Technology gadgets


Black Friar

For a time, during the late 1970s, I had a job leading parties of foreign visitors on tours of historic London pubs. One of my favourite sto...