Yesterday I set up an inquiry, chaired by an eminent judge, into the state of my shrub bank. It is obvious that an endemic failure in governance has taken place. As the chairman of a global garden, it is also obvious that I cannot know everything that goes on. The remit of the inquiry was therefore to allocate responsibility for the lamentable lapse in standards.
The shrub bank was originally designated by its designer as
“a fragrant tangle of flowering and structural shrubs, with stone pathways leading the inquisitive visitor through a living bouquet of scent and colour….”
So how come it looks like this?I am pleased to announce that the inquiry has now presented its findings and has allocated blame for this deplorable state of affairs between the following persons and entities:
- John Keats, and sundry other poets named in Annexe 1
- The Royal Society for the Protection of birds
- Sundry manufacturers of so-called ‘systemic’ weedkiller
- The Meteorological office
The inquiry has further concluded that the designer (me) and gardener (me) are innocent of blame, and that the actions or inaction of the above parties are wholly responsible for the scandal.
The inquiry has commented on the contributory negligence:
John Keats: (and many other so-called ‘poets’)
Indirectly responsible, by writing this kind of rubbish:
“….In neighbourhood of fountains, by the noise
Soft showering in my ears, and, by the touch
Of scent, not far from roses. Turning round
I saw an arbour with a drooping roof
Of trellis vines, and bells, and larger blooms,
Like floral censers swinging light in air….”
……while lamentably failing to mention backache, nettle stings, inadequate drainage and the need for organic mulch. Also responsible, by filling the internet and elsewhere with quotes about sweet blooms and shady bowers for contributing to the general delusion, perhaps partially shared by the designer, that this kind of thing is quite easy.
The Royal Society for the protection of birds.
Directly responsible, through misleading propaganda, for encouraging the presence of garden birds, notably blackbirds and other fruit and berry eaters, while deliberately concealing the ability of said birds to excrete wild raspberry seeds and cotoneaster berries, in places where they are likely to germinate, to the detriment of fragrant tangles. Also for omitting to mention the traditional recipe for blackbird pie and for concealing the fact that four-and-twenty blackbirds fewer would considerably reduce the hazard.
Sundry manufacturers of so-called ‘systemic’ weedkillers
Directly responsible for making statements such as ‘Glyphosate is an effective systemic weedkiller …. It successfully kills most unwanted vegetation right down to the roots. Kills docks, plantains, nettles, thistles, willowherbs, speedwells and grasses to name a few!’
The evidence is other. Exhibit A shows a nettle which has thriven on four doses of glyphosate. It is now addicted and is demanding ever more frequent doses to ever less effect.
The Meteorological Office
Directly responsible for the failure to include in its severe weather warnings the possibility of Ash Tree seeds being blown into people’s gardens.
Further failure to warn gardeners to take the necessary precautions before it is too late.
There was only one recommendation by the inquiry (sorry, you saw this coming, didn’t you?)
Following Rupert’s advice, I conducted a thorough purge of the shrub tangle over the winter, hauling out huge quantities of cotoneaster, and reducing some of the other shrubs by half. In Spring I hosed the emerging nettles, thistles, raspberries and ash seedlings with the most virulent chemicals I could find. It worked, and for a few weeks I had some bare ground. A secondary crop of weeds is now emerging and I shall repeat the dose before planting some new stuff in the Autumn