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November 2002 Blether:
2002 Patrick Vickery

'The Plant 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...

     There's nothing like buying a plant to put you in the mood for a spot of
gardening, is there? I'm fond of those plant stalls that you find at markets
and car boot sales because you never know what you might come across and the
plants are usually quite cheap.

In the past I've sold plants at car boot sales myself, five or six pounds for
a pitch, forty or fifty plants maybe more neatly labeled in smart pots, a
flask of coffee and a tasty sandwich, then 'Bob's your Uncle', simply watch
the cash roll in, or that's the theory anyway, though in reality it doesn't
always work like that, not if there's inclement weather to keep the plant
buying public at bay, or an alternative attraction elsewhere (an
international football match on the television perhaps). If so, you might be
lucky to cover your costs. I find it's best to treat these things as a social
event myself, an opportunity for a good blether with old friends blether,
blether, blether and a chance to catch up on the local gossip.

If you intend to sell plants yourself on a regular basis of course, then
there are some pitfalls to be aware of.

    "You sold me a Geum last time," one man bellowed at me across the table,
"only it was an Oriental Poppy!"

Easy mistake to make. Best apologize when this happens, smile pleasantly,
defer to the customer's expert opinion (he was probably right anyway), offer
a replacement, chat pleasantly about the weather, go for the 'distraction'
approach, non-confrontational.

    "And what about the Lupin that should have been red, it was lime green!!"

"Well obviously a mutation, obviously, obviously, very rare indeed."  This
said with a smile. "Weren't you the lucky one?" 

And then of course there was the woman who wanted worms.

    "Do you sell worms?" she enquired.
    "Worms for the garden?"
Do people really buy worms?  Was she serious? 
    "No, sorry, don't do worms."

I enjoy a good browse around the plant stalls myself, always on the look out
for plants with potential. I remember one occasion particularly well. (A car
boot sale, Inverness, one Saturday morning). I was studying the
horticultural display on the table in front of me and paying particular
attention, in fact, to some brown vegetation cascading down the side of a pot
in a limp and dead sort of way when the stallholder caught my eye.

    "Good plant, that," he said, "looks half-dead now, you know, half-dead,
but you should have seen it yesterday, looked fully dead then, fully dead. 
Dug it up myself, fine specimen, fifty pence to you, sir"

Well what's the world coming to, I asked myself, when somebody wants fifty
pence for a dead plant? And worse still, I paid fifty pence for it too. He
was very persuasive, you see, I didn't like to say no. Of course he could
have been right, couldn't he?  Maybe it wasn't dead at all or even half
dead for that matter   but simply in need of some tender loving care.

So I took it home, planted it, administered tender loving care and then
awaited signs of revival. 

Over the next few days, however, my initial suspicions were confirmed. I'd
bought a dead plant and paid good money for it too. Well what can you say to
that?  'Good Heavens' about sums it up, doesn't it?

(Copyrite 2002 Patrick Vickery)