TURFING OUT a pile of ancient cuttings and catalogues from cupboards and drawers today, I stumbled across four badly-yellowed pieces of newsprint which I was about to screw up and toss into the waste bin.
But then I spotted the headline on each small sheet – Garden Trivia. And that made me smile.
No idea which publication they were snipped from, though I was given clues on the reverse of two of them as to how long they had been gathering Anno Domini-ageing.
One was an advert for Thompson & Morgan’s orchid flowered petunias dated 22nd April, 1995, and the other for a brand of body lotion from Debenhams with the same date.
So after 25 years it was probably time they were committed to the compost heap!
But here, for a little levity, is a random pick of Top Twenty trivia, courtesy of crumpled and fading sheets of info:
■ In the old days, clay flowerpots were referred to as forty-eights or fifty-sixes, the number that could be fitted into the kiln for firing.
■ The largest plant family in the world is that of the orchid with almost 20,000 species.
■ When you water the garden remember that a inch of water will travel nine inches down into the soil.
■ Pineapples used as gate finials in the 17th century were a sign of plenty and generosity.
■ Hollyhocks will ward off fleas, as will camomile.
■ Plants with grey and hairy leaves prefer to grow in full sun rather than in the shade.
■ The young shoots of ground elder are edible.
■ Stored onions will sprout if kept in the dark but potatoes will sprout if kept in the light.
■ Old tights and stockings make handy tree ties.
■ The first popular gardening magazine was published in 1826. Its name was The Gardener’s Magazine, founded by John Claudius London.
■ The late entertainer Bruce Forsyth is a descendant of botanist William Forsyth (1737-1804) after whom forsythia is named.
Nice to see you: Entertainer Bruce Forsyth (above) had a close family link with the springtime shrub forsythia. Top – Hollyhocks are said to keep the fleas at a distance.
■ Bees Seeds were established in 1905 and named A Bee & Co by its founder, Arthur Bulley, after whom the candelabra Primula bulleyana is named.
■ Since 1948 gardeners have been permitted to grow their own tobacco plants without having to pay excise duty.
■ Air plants are relatives of the pineapple and have no roots but extract the moisture they need from the atmosphere.
■ Some say that if seeds of unscented annuals are soaked in rose water before they are sown they will smell of roses when they bloom.
■ The Great Conservatory at Chatsworth was the largest greenhouse in the world when it was completed in 1840.
■ The Crown Imperial, Fritillaria imperialis, sheds tears from the inside of its blooms.
■ A hoe works better if it is filed sharp so that it severs the top growth of weeds from the roots.
■ Fruit trees often shed some of their fruits during June – a natural thinning process known as the “June drop”.
■ Half an ounce of radish seeds will sow a 50ft row.
INTRODUCING A GARDENING BOSS CALLED . . . WEED
OU simply couldn’t make it up – the head of the august Royal Horticultural Society is none other than Mr Weed.
Yes, Keith Weed has been voted in as RHS president. But that’s not all – his mother’s maiden name was . . . Hedges.
Keith, 59, formerly marketing chief at Unilever, says his first task will be to ask gardeners not only to keep their patches beautiful but to make our environment more sustainable.
Among the current RHS staff with appropriate names are Matthew Pottage, curator of RHS Wisley, Jo Sage, head of major grants, Suzanne Moss, head of education, and Gerard Clover, head of plant health.
And let’s not forget former RHS curator Jim Gardiner, writer and author Adrian Bloom, TV and radio personality Bob Flowerdue and – for those of a certain age and older – dear old Bill Sowerbutts.