Saturday, 27 September 2008


If you are wondering about the lack of posts here: my broadband is not working. I have been on the phone repeatedly to 3, who supply it, and they claim to be doing some sort of technical upgrade for my benefit which means things getting worse before they get better. 

In practice it means I have to log on six or seven times before I get a connection, and it generally only lasts a few minutes. This is enough to read or quickly comment, but not enough to upload photos or write carefully considered blogs posts!

Until it's fixed I just can't be bothered as I have already lost big long posts and emails that I hadn't saved. 

Lots of love to all

PS It broke in the middle of me writing this too! 

Friday, 12 September 2008


What a nice thought. 

Argh what a week it's been. I been all over the shop. It all kicked off with a seven-hour early morning writing marathon on Monday because I'd been putting off finishing a piece about Procrastination to run in the Independent (ha ha). 

I really like writing about non-gardening stuff as it makes me feel like I have more strings to my bow, ahem. No, it was good fun ringing up life coaches and saying "how in god's NAME can I motivate myself to be better at working and less attentive to mucking about on the internet?". Anyway their advice must have worked as Baklava has been neglected all week in favour of the commercially-viable. 

Then just as I finished Procrastination the Times emailed and asked for a 1000-word piece I owed them about Alain de Botton's new School of Life, so then I had to finish that. And then I drafted four 400-word pieces for the next month's columns. 

On Tuesday I ate two plums. No I didn't really. I wrote my regular column for the paper and then nipped off to Gravetye Manor in Sussex for lunch with Richard Bisgrove who's just written a really gorgeous, gorgeous new biography of William Robinson. He took us round the autumn garden in the rain talking to us about Robinson and why he was so unique. The book is a wonderful record of all Victorian gardening, not just WR - lots in about carpet bedding which Robinson loathed and campaigned vociferously against. If you like all that Gertrude Jekyll stuff, have a look at the book (they have it at Inner Temple actually on the RHS bookstall). Or treat yourself to afternoon tea at the place itself- I think it must Arabella's local. 

On Wednesday I got up and read through loads of stuff about Darwin for a meeting, then took a group of volunteers who work at the Ashmolean round Kew for an hour and a half. They told me (I was really shocked) that the Ashmolean is having a big redevelopment (I did know that bit) and closes in January for a whole year. So check out your favourite painting now before it goes into storage. 

Then I went for a meeting with Kew magazine about how to celebrate Darwin's 200th birthday next spring. Very interesting - I've been given carte blanche to rootle around in the archives hunting out Darwin-Kew connections. And they are going to pay me. Life doesn't get much better than that, as far as I'm concerned. 

Corsican Pine at Kew

On Thursday I spent absolutely hours tracking down people for a piece on "Behind the Scenes at Kew's Tropical Extravaganza", as the Orchid Festival has been renamed. It's not till February, but glossy mags have such long lead times... And writing up a book proposal that someone had come back to me on sounding reasonably interested but in a big hurry. This meant I was very late leaving my house to get to the Inner Temple. 

But by incredible good fortune, just as I arrived, VP was leaving! And she took pity on me and wandered round with me for about another 45 minutes which was very kind as I'm sure that's the difference between a seat on the way home and not. Here is a lady, laughing her head off remembering a three-way email chat we had the night before with Garden Monkey. 

And sorry, but I actually liked Alex James's balcony the best, even though I think he is a cheese-eating cocaine bender monkey. 

We admired the borders for absolutely ages, drinking in all Andrea's fantastic colour combinations. It's so amazing to see real, soil-based planting at a flower show - god, a delight. Anyway here is another shot of that Persicaria James has gone all gay for - this time with bright red Ricinus balls. 

After VP went, I went to dinner in the Hall of the Inner Temple with a wonderful bunch of judges and gardeners: Ursula Buchan, Andrew Lawson and Jerry Harpur were on my table. Presiding as hostess was Kathy Brown, who is about to appear on the channel 5 thing whose name I'm unable to remember. I can't wait to see her segment. 

And then today I've written all my bloggage for next week, carried on working on the book proposal, looked over some design ideas for that, spent ages catching up on email, chased some Tropical Extravaganza stuff, and I'm about to go for a pizza with my friend Jo. 

So if anyone even thinks "why have you been so crap about blogging this week" that's why. And, anyway: shouldn't you be watching Toby Buckland?? 

But finally, one last picture going out to all my heuchera mommas. The show was left open for the lawyers to look around, but most of the exhibitors had gone (they trusted lawyers?). This is the Heuchera sweetie shop, completely unattended. A little fantasy snap for ma homies. 

Thursday, 4 September 2008


Forget moping about Darce taking himself off the market permanently and check out this great site, which we could have done with at the beginning of the summer, frankly, here in cosmopolitan Ealing. Now I am in full possession of this document I will finally be able to speak about the incessant rain to all my neighbours, including the Polish family who've just moved in over the fence from my allotment (Leje zabami jak z cebra), the Greeks who live on the corner (Brekhei kareklopodara), and the nice Hindi man who runs the internet cafe (Bāriś bahut ho rahi hai).

Self-evidently, though, the person I can't wait to see is my friend Emma Lundin who speaks Norwegian.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008


Leaked reports about the imminent Mazzer "Harbinger of Drool" Wilson nuptials continue to trickle into the Baklava News Desk, encouraged by a steady flow of pieces of eight out again. 

We have been able to confirm from a close friend of the happy couple that the Wilson party have booked out the entire Magic Kingdom's Pirates of the Caribbean attraction for a lavish buccaneer-themed wedding estimated to be costing an astronomical $1.75 million dollars, all of which will be recouped under a hefty deal for the photo rights. 

After a tug-of-love rights fight for the snaps erupted between top gardening titles Gardens Illustrated and The English Garden, contracts were signed this afternoon that left GI editor Juliet Roberts with a big smile upon her face. A spokesperson for The English Garden said "Obviously, we're gutted, but we just couldn't go as high in the bidding as GI can. We're hoping to have some snaps of Peter Seabrook with his verbena that week, though."

Now the only question remaining is where the Heathcliff of the Hedgerows will spend his last night as a single man. Betty's Café Tea Rooms in Yorkshire are now the focus of world media attention, but the maître d'hôte there was keeping schtum, saying only: "I can confirm only that we have received a booking for a stag party on that night, but I couldn't possibly say who the groom in question is." 

However disgruntled former employee Helen Green was prepared to say more: "They've had some very peculiar requests for the stag do. All the food is to be served upon rotten oaken platters, and we've been told there will be antler fighting later on in the evening. It all sounds really weird and actually I'm glad I got the sack for eating too many Fat Rascals on the job." Yet perhaps not quite so peculiar after all. 


Tuesday, 2 September 2008


Just got this postcard from my mum of East Lambrook Manor and it really made me laugh. 

"Dear Emma
Those were the days - when you could get men to mop the roof for you..."

Monday, 1 September 2008



When I consider every thing that grows
Holds in perfection but a little moment,
That this huge stage presenteth nought but shows
Whereon the stars in secret influence comment;
When I perceive that men as plants increase,
Cheered and checked even by the self-same sky,
Vaunt in their youthful sap, at height decrease,
And wear their brave state out of memory;
Then the conceit of this inconstant stay
Sets you most rich in youth before my sight,
Where wasteful Time debateth with Decay,
To change your day of youth to sullied night;

And all in war with Time for love of you,
As he takes from you, I engraft you new.

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