Saturday, 23 April 2011

You like walking out on to a terrace and looking up at a wall that is covered with the pale, tipsy plumes of wistaria ... to walk under arches of orange blossom, thinking the prettiest thoughts ... and you may even stoop down to pick a bunch of pansies, if they match your frock. You like these things, yes.
But you do not like grovelling on the earth in search of a peculiarly nauseating slug that has been eating those pansies. You do not like putting a trowel under the slug, hoping that it will not suddenly burst or produce fearful slime, and tipping the slug with gratified horror into a basket. You do not like bending down for hours to pull up hateful little weeds that break off above the root ... (not groundsel, because groundsel is a lovely weed to pull up) ... but small docks and wretched things like that. You do not like these things, for one reason and only one reason ... because you do not own the garden.
All gardeners will know what I mean. Ownership makes all the difference in the world. I suppose it is like the difference between one's own baby and somebody else's. If it is your own baby you probably quite enjoy wiping its nose. If it is somebody else's you would have to use a long pole with a handkerchief on the end ... at least I should.

I have always opted for the long pole approach to the leakier ends of babies.
But how could Beverley Nichols get it so wrong about gardens?
Knowing that you are the proud and legal owner of the garden with the most nauseating snails in the western hemisphere ... yes, it makes all the difference.
It makes it worse!
They're mine, all mine.
And what I thought I was buying was Option A, the one with the pansies.

6 comments:

rachel said...

Oh, what a great way to start the day, a big sudden surprised laugh! Thank you...

I haven't read Beverley Nichols for many years - I must treat myself to 'Down the Garden Path' again!

Sue said...

I read Down The Garden Path when I was quite young, I think I borrowed my grandmother's copy.
You're quite right owning a garden does not make one want to deal with slugs. I hate gardening but like gardens.

Sue said...

And he's wrong about babies too. I never liked changing nappies etc -just something that had to be done.

mary said...

I found it in a charity shop ages ago, Rachel and hadn't got round to reading it. I'd sooner read about gardens than do the hard bits.
Sue, I've never yet changed a nappy. Babies have to be topped and tailed before they're handed over!

kristina said...

I need this book! K x

mary said...

I've seen it many a time in charity shops, Kristina - lovely illustrations by Rex Whistler, though my copy is rather battered.