Monday, 30 June 2008


I went to my brother's school art show on the weekend and was delighted to see that some young people of today are not impressed by silly D-listers such as Amy Winehouse and Lilo Lohan. 

When asked to take part in an art project focusing on "celebrity", sensible Grace chose a proper old-fashioned star of stage and screen, Sir Lord Alan Titchmarsh. 

I thought that all my fellow bloggers would be greatly cheered to see this wonderful sign that the strength and old-fashioned values of our British youth are not yet completely sapped by all that Wii-ing around. A top-class gardener like Lord High Sheriff Titchmarsh can still command a lot of respect amongst the young. 

In case you're curious about what Sir Lord Alan is saying in this fantastic portrait, it's: "Mmm, that Carol Smiley's got a nice patio, not to mention 'er rake." 


Went all the way to Blackpitts today, which was an amazing treat. But I just completely forgot to ask James A-S way the most important question of all: 




I drove away and literally got onto the M40 and just that moment went "Doh!" exactly like Homer. 

I had been thinking "I must ask James..." all the way there and then I got hypnotised by his most beautiful, beautiful garden and I TOTALLY FORGOT. 


Here is a picture of his poppy heads (we did not have these in tea) to distract you from my lack of ability as an investigatory reporter. 

(Actually maybe he did put poppies in my tea, for forgetfulness - to stop me asking....)

The Coalition says: Next time, send Victoria

Saturday, 28 June 2008


Send-a-Pole have unfortunately discovered the secret location of our new Homemade Gardeners' World Amy Winehouse Garden down in Hampshire.

We'd been hoping to keep it as a special surprise for Amy for when she's feeling a bit better, but there we go, they're a load of nosey buggers. 

If you want more information about the planting scheme, consult Roo, who really was a great help, and whose website is full of helpful cultivational hints. And Madame Wang will be doing the teas, so don't miss out! 

Friday, 27 June 2008


God, there's no Gardeners' World! Stupid, stupid tennis. 

I thought I would have a slight sense of relief, but instead I'm already feeling a bit bereft and missing the normal anticipation as I wonder if Joe is going to do something random, how many times Carol can say a plant is absolutely smashing/gorgeous/beautiful, and how many times they can do a Monty Tribute Montage before someone complains. 

As the Baklava Shed Coalition recently voted itself "most suitable candidate to run Gardeners' World" (apart from the very few crazy votes that went to Matthew Wilson), I thought perhaps we should have a go at running it for ourselves for a couple of weeks and see how we get on. 

I'm going to do a few jobs for the week, and then report on my recent visit to the Carnations and Pinks Day at Wisley, where I saw some absolutely stunning members of this wonderful plant family (see I'm getting into it already!)....

(Press play on the music now, if you haven't already... )


This'll put a smile back on your face. There's a fabulous Beardshaw moment and also some JoeSpazz to please Garden Monkey. Sigh.


Well, we certainly have had a lot of growth in the garden here at Northfields this June, as you can see by the fact that this wisteria is threatening to bring down the telephone wires!

(Remember that if you don't keep your plants under control, your neighbours might complain again about their superfast broadband being adversely affected.) 

So why not get your Felcos out this weekend as it's the perfect moment to get that wisteria tidied up! 

Alan Titchmarsh's rule is back to an arm's length in July, a hand in January. Here's the way I do it -out the front window, unlock the secateurs and hang onto the sash for dear life. 

You can also spit on your neighbour's car from here, if you get a bit of an arc on it. (Say just for example if he's been on Skype all day with the windows open again.)

Remember to keep picking your sweet peas, because it genuinely does help to raise your level of inner smugness when you walk around the house and there's fresh flowers in every room. For a moment, you can pretend you're Sarah Raven, that you own a hugely successful mail order business and that you're married to Adam "Don't worry darling, I'll man the cake stand" Nicholson! Really, give it a try!

It's also a time when lots of your plants are going to need extra feeding, however much donkey poo you managed to work into your flowerbeds earlier in the season. Keep the Miracle-Gro by the sink at all times, but don't confuse it with the lime cordial. 

Some plants won't want feeding, though - I wouldn't give Miracle-Gro to spiky things like sea hollies, agaves or any other gravel garden plants. And I don't think Beth Chatto would either, thank you very much.  

If you want to keep the garden looking great, it's really important to deadhead. As you can see, I deadheaded this rose really thoroughly earlier in the month, and what a picture it is as a result!

On the other hand, if it rains, there are several jobs you could tackle. Firstly, there's the annual bank-breaking bulb order to be considered: mine is coming from Avon Bulbs and cost £89.45. Calculated price per square foot that's on a par with Canary Wharf, but there we go. 

It is mostly alliums because I am dreadfully boring and my old ones were massacred by the men who put up my new fence. However a few experiments: Tulipa marjoletti, which I saw at Kew this year, and two lily-flowered tulips, Burgundy and Maytime, because I think lily-flowered is the future of classiness. And I am Veronica Corningstone, so I should know. 

Their website is really good and fast with tons of cultural info. You also get free Tulipa linifolia if you spend over a certain amount, I think £60 - but it doesn't tell you that on the website, it just suddenly appears as you fill in the order form. Whoopee! We love free stuff!

Another job you could be getting on with is writing any letters of complaint: say for example, to Wyevale or other garden centres about the colour of your sweet peas compared to the label. Please see the sweet peas above to really appreciate the level of trades description infringement I believe to have been perpetrated. 

But if you do just one thing in the garden this weekend, plant some of that bloody stuff you've been buying at plant fairs and shows and open gardens during the last two months and that you keep saying you're going to plant and then end up going to more plant fairs. Come on now! Show some self-discipline and moral fibre! 

But put it in the bucket first, my friends: that is the best best tip I can give you for summer planting survival.

And lastly, don't forget to enjoy your garden: get outside and smell the summer - though probably remember to take your hayfever pills first. Achoo!


Is this some kind of weird relic that has broken through a wormhole from an Everettian alternative reality somewhere else in the fabric of space and time? When was Gardeners' World presented by a superhero team of Montleberry, Tiny Chris and Rachella d'Amour? 

Anyway it's really good fun to see Berryfields without any plants on it!

PS this doesn't count as Monty Tribute Montage, before you get all snippy about it.


Owing to popular feeling, we are declaring 30th June National Green Only Day. It is good timing - filling the "Green Gap" between June flowers finishing and dahlias getting going - but really the motivation is just to show off all the stuff that gets ignored on Bloom Day. 

See this Indyblogs post for more blogs who've done a green-only display - they're listing themselves in the comments, and more will add themselves over the weekend. 

Over there I've also issued the challenge of guessing from looking at my plants the only single-genus plant society I belong to. The prize is a year-old seedling of E.mellifera. Oops, I think I've given it away already. 


Does anyone else slightly get the giggles every week when they read out the credits to Gardeners' Question Time? 

It's not because I think "Assistant Producer, Jo King" is a funny name. I'm fine with Jo King. 

It's the amount of effort the person reading them out goes to, to avoid running the syllables together without drawing too much attention to it. It's like you can hear his little brain working across the airwaves, going: "not too fast, not too slow, a bit of a gap, but not too much of a gap."

Every week I'm on tenterhooks waiting to see what slight emphasis he'll be going for this time to avoid anyone anywhere in the kingdom thinking for a moment that one of the GQT team is called Joking. 

But what calamity do they imagine might happen if we did?

Thursday, 26 June 2008


You may know that my normal employer is the Global Warming Newsletter. It was therefore with trepidation that I took on a top secret mission this morning to infiltrate well into the heartland of enemy territory (see above), many miles behind the battlelines. 

My goal? To report back on current activity in their training camps, located far into the hostile badlands of "Hampton".

I headed across open country, looking for a sign that I was going in the right direction. (I had assumed some camouflage clothing including wellington boots and a high vis vest.) Some marquee-erectors stopped and asked me if I wanted a lift, so I agreed and climbed in. With the help of these comrades I was able to broach the first checkpoint. 

I am sorry to say I observed a lot of deeply suspicious looking activity. This worker seemed to be engaged in some sort of construction. It can only be speculated what sort of dangerous and threatening experiment he is conducting.

I also overheard conversations between a group of officials holding clipboards that chilled me to the very core: using phrases like "final countdown", "last days of build up", and "just nine days to go".

There is undoubtedly much to hide  at this high-security closed site. This technician was using trees and other green growth to camouflage the real nature of his activities within the bunker clearly visible in my photo.

Luckily I did have one loyal contact on the other side. John is currently working as a "designer" on the plot called "Send A Cow". We puzzled over the real meaning of this suggestive-sounding name yet could come up with no possible explanation. 

And I still have so many other questions. 

What is the nature of the thatched cottage built inside the hangar shown in my first photograph? 

Is this secret installation intended to do us harm?

Most importantly of all, what happens to us all -and our wonderful planet- in nine days time? 


We have just had an insider tip-off that Matthew Wilson, previously disregarded by all except a lunatic fringe element for the top Gardeners' World job, is rumoured to be sunning himself at an exclusive French health spa in a quest for peak physical form - after producers hinted he's about to be given the helm of Britain's favourite comedy gardening programme

Whilst Honest Joe contents himself with a few more hours of useless labour at the allotment pulling out marestail, swish Wilson has jetted off to an undisclosed location, believed to be somewhere within "L'Hexagone", to polish up his handsomeness. 

Wilson's punishing regime whilst dans La Belle France includes a gruelling two hours of crazy golf a day, biodynamic cow horn massage (see right), drinking fine pinkish wines and eating asparagus and cherries. 


But will these last-ditch new-age efforts work? Whilst Wilson is renowned for his cranky "sustainable organic gardening" beliefs, we have also learned that he plans to take advantage of his French sojourn by consulting Raymond Domenech the French football manager, about future GW team strategy. 

The Coalition says: We just hope Carol isn't a Scorpio. 

(All pictures show models)


If you didn't listen to this yet, do it now! 

Fast-forward by dragging the little round button to 21 minutes and then you will get straight to the good bit. 

I missed this first time round as we turned on late and only heard the list of vegetables for growing in a shady garden (how much parsley can one person eat for crying out loud?).

And thank you Garden Monkey whose initial story and further investigative reporting have made all my Gardeners' Question Time dreams come true. Apart from, can you please tell me, I mean really why won't you tell me where you get your soot from? 

Wednesday, 25 June 2008


I hope this photo satisfies Anonymous, who does seem to be quite strict. 

As further evidence, I attach my mum's weighing chart which has to be filled in every morning. It's an Excel spreadsheet, if you wanted any additional proof that we were taking the tininess of the pups seriously. The spreadsheet shows one pup, Xeena, who only weighed 100g when she was born - much tinier than the others - and also that she sadly died the next day. 

We think the pups were probably premature which is why they were quite so small, but they all seem to be doing okay now and their eyes are just opening.

 Vive les Chiens!

Monday, 23 June 2008


New issue of The Garden arrived today, with big balls on the front cover (fnarr fnarr). 

The first news item concerns the on-going Scandal of the Illegal Goji Berry Bushes. It doesn't make any sense though. The story tells that a "government spokesman" advised that plants not of European origin be disposed of in household waste. 

This is because Goji plants from outside the EU could be infected with viruses that could spread easily to other members of the Solanaceae -  potatoes and tomatoes to you and me.

Yet the real picture seems more complex than this solution suggests. Many gardeners bought their bushes from reputable firms in this country (and even got given them as part of a subscription offer to Grow Your Own). But the reputable UK firms had bought from Dutch wholesalers, who had bought from illegal importers. Confused? I was. 

Still I can't help thinking this is a giant storm in an over-sized Goji Tea cup. Especially after reading the debate about it on the messageboards (scroll down to the bottom for the fairly final word on the matter from SMS6). 

In the small print, even The Garden admits "the risk of spread is described as relatively low".

Given that Goji berries are being grown by, ooooh, about 0.00007% of the horticultural public, does this really deserve to be the lead news item in the RHS mag? Is it just a case of someone trying to rustle up a drama - when there really isn't one? 

Sunday, 22 June 2008


I just signed up for the Gardener's World email newsletter, and in return got three 20% off discount codes. That means you can buy, mmm, loads more plants. I share them with you, because, well, that's the kind of friends we are. Aren't we?

Crocus 9177
Thompson & Morgan GWD2 GWEM

Happy shopping me loves. 

PS If you are the kind of really honest soul who can't bear to take advantage without signing up yourself, you can do it here. 


I'm sorry, but I can't keep schtum any longer. The garden blogging world has been infected with a seriously virulent infectious vector, possibly worse than Hosta Virus X, Cucumber Mosaic  and Pepper Mild Mottle Tobamovirus all rolled into one.  

The problem is cats, my friends. What is the deal with the moggiephilia? Cats are not lovely, Matthew Wilson: cats are utter rubbish. They crap everywhere and then bury it under the surface so you don't know it's there till you put your hand in it. They chase away all the birds, they eat frogs, they scratch the bark off trees; they are just a walking evil plague in the garden. 

If anyone moans to me about slugs, my first question will always be "are there cats with access to your garden?" Cats drive away all the natural predators of molluscs, to the point that I honestly believe it is only cat-infested gardens that have really serious slug problems. 

Puppies on the other hand, actually eat slugs. If you wanted a single recommendation for having a dog, it would be this. 

But apart from that, they are just better. As there don't seem to be any garden bloggers currently sticking up for dogs in the same rabidly partisan fashion as the cat-lovers, I am going to take up the cause. Cats are rubbish. So there, I've said it. My illustration is of one of the puppies I'm currently babysitting. May she grow up to be a cat-chaser. 

Saturday, 21 June 2008


About 2450 people have emailed me in the last week to ask me when the next Jane Austen Regency Week is going to be. 

Fortunately, I can now confirm that it starts today in Alton, Hampshire. 

At Chawton, where Jane Austen spent the last years of her life revising all her manuscripts, there will be an open day on the 26th June with Regency dancing (good) and Shire horse demonstrations (uh?). 

(Can I just point out though, that Chawton is open every day in the summer - not just on the 26th.)

On the 27th there's a chance for an afternoon walk around with the gardener, Celia Simpson, starting 4.30pm; and then a musical evening ensues. 

If you do make a trip to Hampshire you could also take in Gilbert White's house in incredibly nearby Selbourne, where the garden restoration is delightful. And they always have unusual plants for sale. 

Finally, I think you'll also be relieved to know that Alton eateries have got together and will be serving "Special Regency Food" all week. 

Er, yum?

Friday, 20 June 2008


"It looks like plastic, it feels like plastic."

Why you planting it then?

Tuesday, 17 June 2008


Mmm, I'm really getting into this chick "Feist".

I'm just really unbelievably cool the way I hear a song loads on an advert and then really get into the artist.

If you want to be more like me, I suggest also checking out what music the cool people you know are saying they like, and then saying the same thing. 

Saturday, 14 June 2008


It has been a very interesting experience putting together my first Bloom Day post. My rationale? That it's always such fun looking at other people's efforts that I felt duty-bound (enjoying the high bounty of June) to actually take part this month. 

But what a learning curve. Aside from the almost-satisfying question of mastering a whole new lot of software (thanks to BBC TV's new star' Veg Plotting), there's the soul-searching which occurred after I got all my flowering pics together, and then thought "is that all I've got to show?"

Many sorts of meditation urge the practitioner to see themselves through the eyes of others in order to practice a connecting loving kindness, allowing people to become aware of where they are going wrong in life. Well, putting all the photos of my garden on the internet has definitely achieved that. 

I think this might be one of those things like opening your garden to the public, which lets you see what you are doing through the eyes of others - and then feel fairly disappointed. Hopefully to improve in future. (Please, Lord, hopefully.)

I look at my selection of blooms and feel total envy of Zanthan Gardens and Savannah Gardens, for example. I am at a disadvantage in that my garden is mainly foliage this time of year, with dahlias, cannas and gingers, as well as other more intriguing bulbs like Eucomis and Galtonias, all on the way but not yet there. 

Yet I can't help feeling that I'd have liked to have more to show off - even in my tiny weeeeeeennnnny 4m x 15m plot. And I'm really shocked to find out that almost all the flowers I grow are pink! I didn't know I was so girly. I really had to laugh when I collated all the images. 

So it's been a really interesting process, and I really recommend it for a steep learning curve about what you are actually doing in your garden, as opposed to what you think you are doing. A fairly important distinction. "Seeing through the eyes of others" - a short cut to enlightenment. 


Wednesday, 11 June 2008


Yeah, I may have slightly exaggerated. But listen to this, Austenophile gardening fans! Cottesbrooke Hall is putting on a plant fair, in the very house where Jane A supposedly set Mansfield Park

Unlike your normal plant event, this one runs over three days from the 27th to the 29th June; giving you ample chance to wander over to Northampton and enjoy all the fun of the fair, in a truly Fanny Price-ish fashion.

In addition to the specialist nurseries who'll be  present (including Derry Watkins and other greats) the £6 entrance includes a look round the garden, with a fine 18th century park, worked on in the 20th century by Geoffrey Jellicoe and Sylvia Crowe. 

But the big draw for me, apart from the Austen connection, is the chance to see a posh new terrace border by the verging on devilishly caddish James Alexander-Sinclair (don't be surprised there's a few Sanguisorbas in there). Ooh, he's a right Henry Crawford.


After a long and hard-fought campaign, we have heard in the last few minutes that the final counted votes have gone against us. 

We therefore wish to acknowledge the election of Darcy Wilson, much as it pains us to do so. 

To show that we are good sports, we have had our plant breeding specialists working through the night, in the Swift For Sure Hybridisation Laboratories, to bring you a brand new Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora,  "Sir Matthew Wilson". 

We have also arranged for it to be on sale from this morning at several reputable nursery outlets. Described as "Vigorous, with big red flowers and staying power", we feel it exactly matches the man himself.  

And we're not bitter or anything, but it looks best planted with "Mephistopheles" and "Hellfire". 


Glancing at the papers yesterday we were shocked at the idea that the Independent might be running stories in support of the Wilson campaign. 

Despite their professedly "Independent" electoral stance, they have already given him quite enough press coverage without adding a cover story. 

This time, they chose to preserve the impression of neutrality by clothing their subliminally pro-Wilson message in a boring article about some dude Jane Austen was in love with.  

But we know the truth

Tuesday, 10 June 2008


I do not wish to be accused of hypocrisy at a later date, so this afternoon I feel it is best to come out and make public my decision, made earlier today, to remove a rosemary bush from my property. 

I believe that my behaviour was entirely consonant with the new parliamentary guidelines on removal of rosemary and other plants of mediterranean origin. 

However I am aware that my actions, at this delicate time, might appear to have been out of keeping with the high standards that are expected of me as a candidate's election manager. 

I would like the following circumstances to be taken into consideration: 

1) The rosemary is dead. Kaput. A goner. Been eaten by rosemary beetles since the year before last, and is about ten years old into the bargain. 

2) The removal of the rosemary makes loads more room for the cannas and the baby echiums that have seeded all over the muddyfungstering place.

3) I bought a new replacement rosemary at the weekend from a plant sale. 

4) I took cuttings!

 5) The said Cannas have really good Hungry Caterpillar holes in their nice green leaves, and the kids in my street really like the Hungry Caterpillar. (me too.) Bringing new meaning to the phrase "full transparency". 


In the olden days, if we wanted to keep warm at the allotment we burned tyres. 

These days, we'd be lucky to get away with setting alight old carpet. 

And at the garage last night buying some goods, I was demoralised to note how far the Wilson tentacles have spread. 

All other combustibles have been removed from sale, and my only option was to purchase possibly horribly contaminated real wood. 

Even I am now forced to admit the strength of support Matthew Wilson has garnered, through cheap, crowd-pleasing tactics such as "authoring prize-winning gardening books"and "praising nice community gardening schemes". 

However, before you elect him into power for the next four years, I would urge you to pause for thought - one last time. 

Do you really want a world in which we have to be careful with all the cute little baby hedgehogs, ladybird larvae and slimy jumping frogs that we find in the garden? Do you really want to be intimidated and victimised into utilising only real wood logs? Never to open a bag of John Innes No1 again without hearing the shrieking voices of the EcoBanshees wailing on about peat bogs? 

Think one more time before you set this future in stone, my friends: that is all I ask.

Monday, 9 June 2008


With only five days still to go in voting, our candidate, Joe Swift, seems to have fallen an unconscionable distance behind. Can he still catch up? Will he become truly "Swift" of foot for the very last lap?

It would seem as if Matthew Wilson, has, in the parlance of our times, "Nailed It". 

Unfortunately, he has benefitted from the support of all those global warming loonies who support "climate change planting", and other horticultural oddities beloved of conspiracy theorists like "rainwater harvesting" and "compost heaps". 

We have one chance to save ourselves from a lifetime of having our napalm confiscated in favour of seaweed and comfrey. 

There's just one hope: a surprising loophole has been found in the voting regulations dating back the Declaration of Independence in 1776, allowing a team of gardeners to be proposed for electoral office should a sufficient mandate be found. 

Adding together the three "balaclava" votes, for Monkey, Plotting and Sock, I believe that there is still the potential to defeat this man Wilson and his odd ideas

As Joe's campaign manager, I find myself with the difficult and yet essential task of urging you to turn aside from Joe now in the interests of horticulture, and vote Balaclava Coalition. If you don't want that shelf of toxic 1970s herbicides in your shed cleared forever, vote Balaclava now. 

Saturday, 7 June 2008


Maybe it's all this talk of Jane Austen, but we here at Swift Campaign '08 are  officially cheesed off with our great leader. 

It is a truth universally communicated through the novels of Miss Austen that those who chop down mature trees and shrubs in pursuit of "improvement" are little short of being vandals. 

(Think of Henry Crawford's suggested improvements for the parsonage at Thornton Lacey in Mansfield Park (boo, hiss); or Rushworth's plan to fell the old avenue at Sotherton in the same novel to give the place "a modern dress"; or when in Sense & Sensibility John Dashwood agrees to get rid of the old walnut trees so his wife Fanny (double boo hiss) can put up a greenhouse, to be "exceedingly pretty".)

Last night I felt a little bit like Elinor Dashwood, as I watched "Capability" Swift removing a fine, gnarled, happy old rosemary from the herb garden at Berryfields. Deeply offended. 

Look I actually like Joe's mucking about on the allotment. I like his have-a-go attitude.

But when it comes to a beautiful old plant like that, I want there to be more sense of aesthetics, of husbandry for all the creatures living in that rosemary, of delight in the natural shape.

Let me leave you with this description of Donwell Abbey, the home of Mr Knightley:

Its ample gardens stretching down to meadows washed by a stream, of which the Abbey, with the old neglect of prospect, had scarcely a sight - and its abundance of timber in rows and avenues, which neither fashion nor extravagance had rooted up.

Friday, 6 June 2008


Some very ungentlemanly comments have been made at the expense of our fine candidate, Mr Joe Swift.

We would like to say, in his defence, that he is, at the very least a gentleman.

He may be a clumsy Joe. 

He may be a man of many faults. 

He may even be a dope. 

But he is a nice and kind person who is willing to try new things without worrying that he looks like a dope. 

For us, that makes him entirely worthy of our vote. 

Thursday, 5 June 2008


After Arabella Sock's fascinating revelations over on her interesting but electorally-misguided Beardblog, I can reveal that in the last ten minutes or so, taxonomic studies have turned up stunning new information for Wilsonologists.

In the past, the world of professional botanists had chosen to classify the two American Wilsons as part of a wholly different family to our domestic Wilson. Now gel electrophoresis suggests that the three are in fact much more closely related than previously thought. All three Wilsons can be proven by "DNA Barcoding", similar to that used by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group, to have a close common ancestor no later than 1965.

The immediate implications of the gel junkies' decision, taken at the World Botanical Congress at Kew, will be that M. Wilson as of today, is reclassified into a family with Owen and Luke.

What possible film projects might result is anyone's guess, but it does seem to bode well for future small-screen efforts at the very least.


Take a look at the latest voting from the Gardens Illustrated Best TV Presenter poll. Smell anything fishy? Perhaps you wonder how Kim Wilde could have 276 votes... When even Alan Titchmarsh only has a hundred?

An insider at "Gardens Illustrated" let us in on the rumours startling the horticultural world: "Well apparently, Kim Wilde was over at Matthew Wilson's, looking at his roses and talking about mildew. While they enjoyed an innocent day in the garden, her people got chatting to his people."

"Before anyone knew it, the spin doctors had begun to joke about trading votes in the Best TV Presenter poll, for support in the Gardeners' World contest against Joe Swift."

Rumours have now surfaced suggesting that the PR men immediately began secret negotiations to trade blocks of votes, leading to an illicit midnight handshake deal. Meanwhile Wilde and Wilson slept, blithely oblivious to the shenanigans being enacted in their names.

"Obviously, Kim's out of the running for the GW job, and Wilson's camp are happy to sacrifice the Garden's Illustrated title if they can get their hands on Friday night - that's the real prize here."

It's the kind of cynical manipulation of the public which has characterised this whole campaign, with mud-slinging from all sides. Especially when they were digging the allotment in the rain. 

The real loser in all this is, of course, Lord High Sheriff of the Isle of Wight, Baron Alan Titchmarsh: with a century of genuine votes in the GI poll, he comes in well behind the front runner.

As our insider said: "The sad thing is that I'm sure Kim and Matthew have no idea what's being done in their names, and that if they did, they'd be absolutely gutted." 


Listening to Barack Obama's speech live on Radio Five yesterday afternoon, I felt a great optimism and hope that a new day is dawning.

A day where cynical attempts to call in favours and votes will become outdated; a day when goji berries will be consumed freely, taking advantage of all those antioxidant properties; a day when  triangularity will be recognised for the great principle of World Peace it truly is.

You may have come here today to cast a vote for other candidates besides our own beloved Joe. We understand. Perhaps your mind has been swayed by lust; perhaps by wooly thinking; perhaps by fancying a nice swimming pool and some rare Thalictrums.

But I know, that you, as a true gardener, will in the end do the right thing. Gardeners have a way of doing the right thing. And I know that in the end, you'll know that the only right way to vote in this election is to vote Swift.