Thursday, 28 August 2008

A Nice Green Leaf: Gnome Nation


In a pleasant change of mood from the discussion of ever-falling house prices, The Independent today tackles the question of what makes Britain great.

Apparently quite a lot of what makes up our stout national character relates to gardening: the list includes Allotments (which "show that self-sufficiency might lead to the possibility of sleeping with Felicity Kendal"), Rude Vegetables and of course Gnomes, which "some say have mystical powers".

You what?

Sadly, most of the commenters on the main web page are taking it way too seriously.
Angry posts about traffic, litter and (best of all) "imagrants" and "Mosks". Mmm. Learn to spell, and then maybe I'll bother reading it.

On the other hand, fish and chips, jaffa cakes and "proper sandwiches", I like a bit better as explanations of our national appeal. But on my list (obviously from a fairly horticultural angle) would also be:

Pub window boxes: Come on now! Where else in the world have you ever been where establishments selling booze took so much care over the gardening? It's like making a gingerbread house to tempt in small children, it's saying "come in and drink, we mean you no harm, you will be safe with us. Cirrhosis? What's that? Mm, look at this busy lizzie and stop thinking such depressing thoughts."

Municipal bedding: Say what you like, no one does it like us. Okay, Jeff Koons made a dog out of flowers in Bilbao. But that's like post-modern and stuff. I'm talking about proper old-fashioned Britain in Bloom. The vicious competition, the night time strikes on the enemy, the lifetime rivalry: it's just so, well, British.

Sissinghurst: There's a reason this is the most visited garden in England. It has romanticism, history, great planting, and lesbians. Thousands of coachloads are not disappointed, because it's one of the most magical places on earth.

But there's still so many things to mention. Chelsea Flower Show! Lawns! the W.I.! What would you add? Remember now, no going-on about "Pollish" people.

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