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Last year it was magnificent. Towering erections of white and pearly grey, swaying majestically in the slightest breeze. In order to encourage a repeat performance I’ve given it compost, fertiliser and water. Despite my best efforts, this year it’s mangy, poxy and pathetic, cringing sadly in the most noticeable place right before the front door. Nevertheless, the tatty brown leaves are carrying the plant’s reputation for being a thug, by subsuming more delicate and desirable bed mates. I’ve taken against bear’s breeches in a big way. This is no casual huff caused by the brute’s rejection of my love gifts, this is a major snitty. I handed Attila the spade.
Passiflora “Purple Haze” in the conservatory
Passiflora “Purple Haze” in the conservatory

I gave my under gardener strict instructions, to remove every last scrap of Acanthus mollis, whilst not disturbing Scabious “Chilli Black”. I asked him to re-plant against the rear wall where challenging conditions and solid brick will limit the ingrate’s plans for world domination. I told him not to upset the teasels or plume poppies while he was digging. I scuttled about potting every self sown seedling with a view to ingratiating myself with big plant gifts, accompanied by a warning about its hooligan nature.
Newly planted
Newly planted

I didn’t keep moving fast enough and got caught at the gate. Madge lives next door. A lady of advancing years, I admire her spunk in keeping her front tidy, whilst deploring the fact that her back garden is crammed with ground elder. She declines my offers of assistance, whilst accepting cuttings and clumps of greenery with grace and gratitude. Once, she hired a professional but he had the demeanour of a haunted man and only lasted a week. The problem is that she rattles like a nut in a drainpipe, talking without stopping for breath, meals or lack of sunlight. If prattle was an inter-galactic sport, Madge would be competing for our solar system. Conversation tends to orbit in circles before disappearing in a black hole of confusion. Sometimes she loses her grip and gets abusive and extremely rude and I am obliged not to retaliate. I would rather undergo root canal work than spend an hour pinned to the fence, listening to her inane chatter. I handed over a large pot full of Acanthus, together with a caution that the ruffian would stuff all comers, weeds included. Her jaws never stilled, so I don’t know if my advice was heeded.
New Heucheras among the ferns
New Heucheras among the ferns

We watched my partner excavate a pit in pursuit of tap roots, whilst the flow of babble never stopped. My neighbour told me that I was lucky to have a husband who liked gardening, to which I replied that he didn’t, but he wanted a quiet life. My put upon spouse and I finished the job and cleared up the mess, while a rather lonely lady spouted all of her observations from the last six months. Making our excuses, we fled to the house. Peering out afterwards, I saw that she had captured the postman, nattering him into submission while he clutched his envelopes for protection. Much later I closed the curtains, noticing that Madge had trapped the evening paper boy in a corner, her mouth in constant motion. He had fear on his face. If he’s still there in the morning, I’ll sacrifice myself to the burbling to effect a rescue.

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