Friday, 15 May 2009


In these thoroughly exciting times of ours, it's rare that gardening makes it onto the front page of the newspaper. Of course there's always a bit of kerfuffle in Chelsea week due to the exciting presence of CELEBRITIES (and for those with a Heat!icultural mentality, go quickly right now and download Martyn Cox's celebrity Chelsea Bingo card). 

But not usually in the political news, no. 

All that has now changed. 

Due to the revelations which have been liderally pouring out of Westminster for the last few days, we now know precisely how much David Cameron had to cough up to have a wisteria removed from his Oxfordshire home (surely such an act would be against local Cotswold bylaws?). 

I thought readers might enjoy a brief selection of all the horticultural costs charged by our esteemed representatives in parliament...

  • Bristol MP Dan Norris got a strimmer 
  • John Gummer £9,000 on gardening including removal of moles from the lawn. Well, they can be pesky creatures. A year, for four years. That's, um, £36 GRAND. 
  • David Heathcote-Armory spent £380 and got hundreds of sacks of horse manure. Now this man I respect. 
  • Nick Clegg - £760 to repair the garden path. Ooh, and he's taking us down it... 
  • Margaret Beckett - £600 on hanging baskets and container plants. In total, she had £6,500 for gardening, including dismantling a rockery. 
  • Lembit Opik sank to a new low - £12,ooo including decking. Ugh. 
  • Douglas Hogg - £2000 to 'clear the moat around his house'! I'm not kidding. 
  • Sir Michael Spicer - £7,000 for maintenance including 'hedge-trimming for a helipad'. He later described the claim for a helipad as a 'family joke'. Oops! 
  • Alan Duncan (oh he really has been naughty - he heads the freaking committee in charge of overseeing expenses) £3,194 on gardening in March 2007. For a gardener to garden 16 hours a week in grounds of less than an acre. £6 an hour, which is criminal in itself, I think, plus £598 to fix the ride-on mower. 

I don't know what you think about all this, but I can't help laughing. 

One thing strikes me though - all these MPs could do with a bit of help. I mean, wisteria is a bit of a challenge, but don't remove it! Learn to prune it properly, and get all the benefits. And Douglas Hogg could simply have consulted Vita Sackville-West.Next time, can we send David Cameron to gardening class? 


Nutty Gnome said...

Great post - it really made me laugh. Douglas Hogg's moat for heaven's sake!and I'd have dismantled Margaret Beckett's rockery for a lot less than that!!

I've also now got 'the floral dance' going round in my head - thanks for that! (sigh!):)

Victoria said...

Emma, I think you're being really unkind. Everyone knows how much work a moat can be, and it does serve the public interest, in my view. It keeps the public at a safe distance from arrogant ****** like Douglas Hogg.

emmat said...

Yes well Doug should have just asked Vita Sackville-West.shouldn't he?

I am mean, aren't I?

It actually makes me feel better about all the times I've gone to B&Q for a couple of things to cheer up my tubs and come out going "MY GOD I'VE SPENT THIRTY EIGHT POUNDS"
Seriously if Margaret Beckett's cost £600 i don't feel nearly so bad

Alex said...

When will they release the amount spent on sheds? I bet they got some fancy ones, the devils.

unclewilco said...

Alex, one of the shed expenses ishere..

emmat said...

Uncle Wilco's link is hilarious... surely all these MPS should be saving us money by housing their constituency surgeries in their SHEDS

Arabella Sock said...

I feel for David Cameron. I am about to cut down my wisteria that I planted about 8 years ago - it needs to make room for the new greenhouse.
I don't even like it - the few flowers are hidden by the yellow leaves but nevertheless it pains me greatly to get rid of it after I had wanted one so much. Poor David, he probably had the same problem and it broke his heart to get rid of it.. er.. how much did he pay for this act of vandalism?

VP said...

That David Heathcoat Amory was ripped off - our local farmer charges a mere £15 for a stonking great trailer load of manure. Looks like I missed a great business opportunity :(

emmat said...

£680 to 'remove wisteria from a chimney and roof'. It sounds like they actually kept the wisteria, but had let it get on the roof, which is always a total nightmare.

Pruning, my dear David, PRUNING!

That applies to you too actually Arabella. But you know what they are hard work, not for everyone, and really shade whatever they grow on. lately I can see the logic of having scented roses that actually have perfume during the months I have the windows open.

James A-S said...

I made a garden for Alan Duncan about ten years ago. Do you think I was paid for by the taxpayer?
I probably should have charged more.

emmat said...

If you really cared about standards in public life you would give that money back! Or at least appear in public giving out horticultural advice to the value of.. Oh, you already do that. xxx