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March 2003 Blether:
© 2002 Patrick Vickery

"The Heron Blether"

'Blether' is a Scottish word meaning a good chat (a good blether), often a long and lazy relaxed chat at that, and sometimes over a dram or two of whisky!

e-mail Patrick at: aldieburnplants@aol.com

Patrick Vickery lives in the Scottish Highlands with his wife, three children, two dogs, two goats and an assortment of smaller animals. They live in a two acre wood in a wonderful part of the world.

Patrick runs a small Garden Nursery (part-time), is a Garden Writer (part-time) with a particular interest in the humourous side of things (especially the things that go wrong!), and works part-time as a Special Needs Teacher.

Patrick's first gardening book  In Pursuit Of Perennial Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden. ISBN: 186163148 has recently been published. A 'how-to' book - a book that shows how to make your garden productive in a variety of ways, for both expert and gardening novice alike, at minimum cost and in an innovative and self-financing way, using a raised bed system of propagation, and concentrating primarily on hardy perennial plants that can be raised and grown outdoors without the aid of a polytunnel or greenhouse.

Available direct from the Publisher at: Capall Bann Publishing, UK; from bookshops; or from Amazon.co.uk via the Internet.

more info:

In Pursuit of Perennial Profit - The Pot of Gold At The Bottom of the Garden...

 I know a bus driver called Rocky.
Rocky has two dogs, Ricky and Reggie, and a cat called Buster.
Rocky, Ricky, Reggie and Buster.
It has a solid ring to it, don't you think?  Something of a London Gangland
feel, from another era, the nineteen-sixties perhaps?

Rocky lives in the suburbs of Inverness and has a wonderful rambling garden.
Not too neat, not too wild, just perfect for a spot of pottering about and
being 'at one' with nature, and just the sort of garden that I would wish to
have if I lived in town - a pond, a shed, a compost heap, garden chairs, a
table to accommodate a bottle of wine after an arduous day's work in the
garden, a greenhouse, somewhere for the kids to play and a woodland area at
the far end to get away from it all and commune with nature. Perfect.

Now Rocky had a problem with his pond. It was well-stocked with fish, you see
(Japanese Koi), when a local heron of the district flew in and scoffed the
lot. Now Rocky was not pleased with this, no, in fact he was distraught. And
what do you do when something like that happens? Shoot it, I suppose,
although that's hardly the done thing in today's society, is it? No, you
can't be doing that sort of thing in the suburbs - shooting indigenous
wildlife - whatever next. But you can't really blame him for considering the
idea, albeit briefly, now can you?

Then Rocky hit upon a solution: a solution given to him by one of his
fare-paying passengers as he was bemoaning the plight of his Japanese Koi and
ranting on delirious about the need to relocate the entire heron population
of Inverness to the Shetland Islands.

    'Git a plastic one, Rocky," said the fare-paying passenger, "that should
do the trick. Git a plastic heron." ('Git', of course, in this context should
be 'get' - for that's what he meant - only 'git' is what he said, which fits
in neatly with the London gangland 'feel' mentioned earlier, don't you
think?)  "Git a plastic one."

 Brilliant, thought Rocky, just the thing, so he popped down to the Garden
Centre to buy himself a plastic heron.

Now it came in a box, you see, this plastic heron, a sort of 'do-it-yourself'
kit, fifteen pounds, very realistic, and in five pieces: torso, two legs (one
folded and one extended), a head and a length of dowelling to stick up its
nose with feathers on the other end that flapped in the wind. What a
brilliant idea.

 "Stand by Garden Pond," said the instruction manual. "Deters all herons."

Rocky was ecstatic. But unfortunately there was a problem.  It didn't work,
you see, that was the problem, not in Rocky's case anyway (which isn't to say
- before any plastic heron manufacturing company decides to sue me - that it
won't work for anybody else). No, the real heron wasn't deterred by this at
all - useless in fact - and if anything visited Rocky's garden on a more
regular basis than before.  Rocky was not amused.

 "Git a plastic heron, my foot!" he muttered to himself (or words to that
effect) as the two birds snuggled into each other beside the pond.

As a temporary solution to this problem and just for the time being, nothing
permanent, he opted to forgo Japanese Koi and make do with dwarf water lilies
and marginal plants instead. But what to do with a redundant plastic heron? 
Far too expensive to throw away. And then he hit upon the ingenious idea of
recycling it - an idea given to him by one of his fare-paying passenger as he
ranted on delirious one morning about wasting good money on plastic herons.

    "Bury it, Rocky," said the fare-paying passenger, "upside down, neck
deep, drill holes in its bottom, grow flowers 'out it', trailers, ivies and
the like, an horticultural innovation…"

What a brilliant idea, thought Rocky, and so that's what he did.  Indeed, so
enthusiastic was he with this idea that he popped down to the garden centre
to buy himself a plastic gnome for similar purposes.

So there you are. All's well that ends well. And if the sight of two
protruding bottoms - heron and gnome - with accompanying foliage doesn't keep
the local heron population at bay, then nothing will.

(Copy right 2002 Patrick Vickery)