Hello and welcome back from the Christmas festivities. I hope you had a wonderful family time and remembered to put the cranberry jelly on the table! The internet has allowed gardeners from all over the world to share their own chosen way of growing a garden. This story is dedicated to such diversity.
In our village we have the tale of two brick cottages that stand joined together down Water Lane.
The front garden of the left-hand side cottage is devoted to dahlias of every colour possible, laid out in a precise schematic fashion.
The front garden to the right-hand cottage is a delightful tumble-down chaos, seemingly bereft of even the slightest touch of design or order.
But who owns the cottages?
The dahlia garden belongs to Jerry who was the front-man for the ‘Cosmic Carrots’, a little-known rock-band that hung around the edge of the music scene in San Francisco for a while. Their one claim to fame was an invitation to play at Woodstock but their van broke down halfway up the highway.
Sadly their fortunes went the way of their head-gasket and after two more years of gigs in rundown joints the band broke up. Jerry, still trying to hold together a mescaline-fragmented mind, headed back to his native Dorset and bought the brick cottage. His doctor recommended dahlias. He has spent the last forty years cultivating his garden, rediscovering planet earth and straight lines in general.
The over-blown blooms of his dahlias are supported by a system of poles and twine, each one with its own unique label. Every weed is fastidiously removed and down the middle runs a narrow strip of manicured lawn as smooth as any billiard table.
Jerry married a librarian called Priscilla who spends her spare-time cataloguing the dahlias and preparing the labels. The soothing sounds of Mozart lilts gently down their pristine path.
The other cottage belongs to Geoffrey who was employed since leaving school as an accountant by a City firm. One day he was commuting to work and found himself gazing out of the carriage window at the passing scenery that had become sadly far too familiar over the years.
When the train stopped at Woking the young passenger sitting opposite got up to leave and without a word handed Geoffrey a tatty paper-back as he left. The book was entitled ‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac. Geoffrey began to read the book and by the time the train pulled into Waterloo he was a changed man. One month later, with a resolute look on his face, he had left his employment, bought a camper van and said goodbye to his doting and worried mother.
Geoffrey headed up the M1 in search of adventure with the sound of Charlie Parker grooving in the background. In Sheffield he picked up a hitchhiker, a topless dancer named Jackie. By the time they reached Edinburgh they had fallen in love and they were married in Gretna Green the following day.
They spent the next ten years living in a tipi in Wales exploring the intricacies of inner astronomy with the help of magic mushrooms. They then bought the brick cottage in our village. Jackie became a consummate jam-maker whilst Geoffrey wrote several well-respected tomes on inter-galactic visitations.
The story is told that Geoffrey bought the whole of a Women’s Institute table-top display of cottage garden plants, lock, stock and barrel. He took them into his front garden, threw them up in the air, and where they fell is where they were planted. His colour combinations have been said to rival Great Dixter for their brazen adventurousness.
Jerry and Geoffrey meet over the fence from time to time to discuss gardening and have become the best of friends despite being poles apart. As Grumpy George once said: ‘it takes all sorts to make a round world’. And it does indeed!
Dear readers, whatever style of garden you have, may it bud and flourish and give you and your neighbours great delight in the coming months. Happy New Year everybody!!!