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The woman whose garden backs onto mine has a face like a slapped arse. Her daughter has a mouth like a cat’s bum. Her husband looks like a bulldog chewing on a wasp. Instead of a yard full of flowers and foliage, they own a collection of tangled metal and tortured plastic. They enliven a heap of cardboard occasionally, by setting fire to it, cremating beef burgers in clouds of oily smoke and dancing around the flames. The man of the house has a hobby of erecting outbuildings, so the overall effect is of a very crowded slum Hobbit town.
Skimmia x confusa “Kew Green”
Skimmia x confusa “Kew Green”

Each to their own; I try to adhere to the rules of the old nomadic communities and keep my eyes within my own boundaries. When they hold a barbecue in the summer, their children throw unwanted food over the wall, to adorn my carefully tended border of perennials. I love the idea of folk being so happy that they want to sing. These people partake of alcoholic beverages, possibly to excess, then caterwaul unrecognisable songs at full volume. I filter this with headphones and block the view with conifers for evergreen screening and shrubs for summer froth. My long term plan is coming along well apart from the new shack which my nincompoop neighbour is erecting against our adjoining wall. The roof is made of actinic green tarpaulin and teeters on the edge of allowable building restrictions. My laissez-faire is coming apart at the seams.
Acanthus mollis (bear's britches)
Acanthus mollis (bear’s britches)

The soil is too wet to work and it’s too soon for seeds, so I’m off to my potting shed, which is a discreet affair tucked underneath the conservatory. I haven’t seen the floor for decades, so unless I want to be trapped beneath a landfall of seed trays, action is unavoidable. The boxes of bone meal will be useful no matter how far they have exceeded their sell by stamps. Some of the weed killers pre-date safety legislation and bubble in a sinister manner when the lids are released. Since I cannot empty out the contents without poisoning the water table, they will remain sealed on the shelf, until I can get a line to Porton Down and some toxic chemical disposal. It occurs to me that with careful admixture of fertiliser and carbon, I could build a bomb with which to blast next door’s hut into history.
Lonicera fragrantissima (Winter flowering honeysuckle)
Lonicera fragrantissima (Winter flowering honeysuckle)

Stop thinking like this and get on with the job. After a lifetime’s collection, I have more plastic pots than Homebase, B & Q, Holwoods and Robin’s Bridge all put together. I’m dealing with this by loading them into bin bags and passing them on to a local gardener for plant sales, when they open for the NGS yellow book scheme. The trick is to drop off this largesse in small doses, so as not to frighten them. After an hour of wholesale junk removal, I become aware of a pair of eyes watching around a holly bush. Casually pick up a hydrangea cutting and make my way over to them. Offer the plant by way of an introduction and chat about the weather; we are British, after all. Her name is Susan and she wants to have a pretty garden. She has a charming family and they are having an Xmas party to which we are kindly invited, so I’ll warm up my vocal cords and take a couple of bottles. Hoping that your festivities are full of peace and goodwill. Cheers.

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