Really this is the kind of post you’d expect in the dead of winter when there is little gardening to be done, but when you see a bargain, you’ve got to go for it. My wife saw a couple of books in a local charity shop, bought one for me and I had to go back later to get hold of the other. First there’s my most abiding inspiration, a book i’ve borrowed from the library many a time:
There are lots of things I like about this book. Famously, Christopher Lloyd tore the roses out of the rose garden at his home, Great Dixter, and planted something that amounted to a slap in the face instead. I like to think that he knew he was being a bit naughty, growing all these exotic, attention seeking plants together en masse.
The other book combines two of my favourite things: exotic plants and tales of Edwardian derring-do along the lines of Palin and Jones’ Ripping Yarns.
To me, this sort of thing is inevitably humourous. There are the obligatory crates of champagne being carried through the steaming jungles of Burma by an army of hired labour.
The medical comforts included a case of non-vintage champagne and two cases of Jamaica rum
The ‘natives’ are stereotyped as either savage warriors or placid, docile hired help.
These Hkanungs are a simple and pleasant folk, rather timid, short and sturdy and gifted with great staying power. This is probably due to practice from childhood in lifting heavy weights
One wonders if Ikea do a bookcase called Hkanung. If so, perhaps Mr. Ward would have trouble distinguishing the tribe from the furniture.
Of course, conservation is not in these chaps’ lexicon. Mr. Ward, the plant hunter, is accompanied by a character called Cranbrook whose sole character trait seems to be a mania for shooting things.
Ba Kai trapped some mice, and Cranbrook shot a chicken
Cranbrook had shot a squirrel
Cranbrook went out shooting every day
One day I surprised five jungle fowl. I sent back news of this flock to Cranbrook, who came back in time to bag one
Cranbrook was as successful among birds and beasts as I was among the flowers. He trapped rats and shrews and shot a red-headed trogon
Bless him, blazing away at all and sundry. I once heard it said that for someone to be a true English eccentric, he or she must think themselves extremely normal. There’s plenty of mileage in that, i’d say.