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March 2002 Blether:
2002 Patrick Vickery

'A Tree 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.

     Christmas is now well past. I hope it was a good one. On this belated festive
theme I once toyed with the idea of growing Christmas trees on a small scale
- a small scale business venture really -  but never got round to it in the
end.  Maybe when I retire?  There's money in Christmas trees, you see.
Mind you, many years ago when we lived in a small house with a garden that
backed onto woods  I took it upon myself to acquire a fresh Christmas tree
straight from the ground. It's not a good idea to go digging up trees
willy-nilly of course, oh no, far better to pay fifteen pounds for a dead and
rootless one instead, but I was young, impoverished and full of justification
for such a dastardly deed; and anyway it was self-sown, on land soon to be
quarried and nobody would ever know, or so I reasoned at the time.  I would
replant it after the festivities were over of course, though not in the same
spot to be bulldozed by the quarry men, oh no, certainly not, what a waste,
but in a secluded area of the garden to be re-used again next year. That's
re-cycling for you!
 So one afternoon in mid-December I set off into the gathering dusk with a
spade in one hand, a torch in the other, and a mind full of improbable
excuses just in case I was unlucky enough to meet anyone else out and about
at that time of day. 
 As I wandered gaily along (looking for all the world like a suspicious
character about to dig up a Christmas tree to lug back to the fireside) I saw
other shadowy figures in the half-light of that crisp afternoon. We passed
each other like ships in the night, heads down, silent, possibly the odd
Highland grunt of acknowledgement, possibly not, but all seriously intent on
anonymity. They were "at it" in the woods, doing the same as me, Christmas
time was looming, the spades were out, the goose was getting fat. I even
spotted a tree in the distance bobbing along under its own steam with a most
peculiar loping gait.  Surely, I reasoned, somewhere beneath that foliage
there must be a person with a spade, for how else could it move like that -
how else could it move at all!
 Once the tree was up, neatly positioned beside the fireplace and bedecked in
festive spangly things, we eagerly anticipated the arrival of the 'The
Bearded One' - Santa - who always appeared on Christmas Eve (between 6 and
7pm) sitting comfortably in the back of a pick-up truck dispensing lollipops
to the children of the district in exchange for a wee dram from the adults of
the household. Ho, ho, ho.
 By the time he'd reached our house many a lollipop had been dispensed, many
a wee dram quaffed, and he'd subsequentially adopted the ruddy and brazened
look of a festive beacon.

 But gone are the days of jolly Santas in pick up trucks - more's the pity -
although in certain parts of the country, prior to Christmas, the odd
wandering conifer can still be spotted in the gathering dusk of a late
afternoon. Some traditions never die out, do they? Not completely. 

(copyright Patrick Vickery 2002)