New Year is a traditional time for taking stock, reviewing, and irksome Top Ten lists. Everybody is dreaming of a shinier, better, happier and more successful year ahead.

Gardeners in particular are dreamers par excellence.  At the start of the new season we envision our vegetable crops will be vast and immaculate, the weather will bestow infinite benevolence upon us and we will skip like innocents among flower meadows at sunrise.

unicorn puking a rainbow

Picture a few additional bunny rabbits interspersed with perfectly formed long carrots, children holding hands, a rainbow, some giant cabbages with absolutely NO slug holes in them, towering flowers humming with vitality and possibly a gurgling baby looking upwards at a beautiful and majestic tree while sunbeams filter through the pristine leaves, illuminating them like spring emeralds. . . .

Good God

Good God

*THUNDERCLAP* *LIGHTNING* cue pestilence, blight, canker, assorted mildews and a proliferation of superslugs evolving before our very eyes.

Before this (inevitably) happens, we are quietly plotting, scheming, planning  and fantasising, not to mention ordering excessive and sometimes wildly unrealistic amounts and types of seeds. We convince ourselves it will be the best growing season EVER and that we will able to grow ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING we like OUTDOORS and WITHOUT A GREENHOUSE, despite for example, living far too north of the equator to ever grow sweet potatoes and vanilla orchids.

I once tried to grow a date palm in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Outdoors and without a greenhouse. I’ll say no more.

It’s good to dream, but I have to include myself among those who do have a tendency to get totally carried away. I would genuinely love to recreate Edward James’ outlandish and exotic Mexican garden of Las Pozas in my back garden, or grow a Tacca chantrieri. But to even nod to the majesty of Las Pozas, I would have to scale down the follies and use plants with a ‘tropical appearance’. My Tacca chantrieri specimen would end up looking like a drowned stray cat rather than an miraculous tropical bat mimic. Trying to scale down follies only leads to bathos and disappointment. (See Stonehenge, by Spinal Tap in my ‘Solstice’ post).

Yo batface, what are you staring at?

Yo batface, what are you staring at? (Tacca chantrieri)

While I’m on the subject of spooky mimics and pathological fantasists, I think I’ll move on to some eccentric art.

Art Spot 

This is exactly the kind of harvest we expect from 2014

This is exactly the kind of harvest we expect from 2014

Jan Davidsz de Heem, ‘Festoon of Fruit and Flowers’ 

She always manages to sneak in a vagina or a cock or two, doesn't she?

She always manages to sneak in a vagina or a cock or two, doesn’t she?

Frida Kahlo ‘Still Life (Around)‘. Kahlo was associated with Surrealism, Primitivism and Magic Realism, so it would be fitting to include one of her works too.

Book of the Week 

surrealist manifesto

The Surrealist Manifesto, by Andre Breton

Alternative Reading Matter

A good pile of seed catalogues from fine seed and plant purveyors of distinction.

Track of the Week

California Dreaming (either of The Mamas and the Papas or The Beach Boys versions)

Plant of the Week

Tacca chantrieri

2013 Top Ten Stupid Things

1. Top Ten Lists

2. I’m bored now, byeee

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