Beverley Nichols really knows how to insult a plant. How about this:
…it reminds me of a clump of laurels on which someone has hung the weekly washing.
… as embarrassing as a middle-aged lady standing on the steps of a provincial town hall, disguised as Cleopatra for the annual fancy dress ball at the Rotary Club.
…gaunt, gawky, and deliberately deformed by man, with its tortured, amputated limb sticking out in all directions, demanding pity rather than praise.
I have deliberately not included the names of the plants being humiliated, not because I’m protecting them, but because I’d like to hear your best guesses as to which they might be. Yes. It’s a contest, and the prize is a new collection of Nichols’s best: Rhapsody in Green: The Garden Wit and Wisdom of Beverley Nichols (Timber Press). Nichols (1898–1983) was a British journalist, essayist, and novelist who may now be best known for his garden writing, most of it personal books about his many gardens (urban and rural). If you have all of his books already, I suppose you don’t need this. But on the other hand, it’s fun to flip through and enjoy excerpts of the most memorable bits from such books as Down the Garden Path, Garden Open Today, the Merry Hall trilogy, and Green Grows the City, among others. It’s impossible to randomly open it without finding something that will make you smile, like this:
In a mad moment I once made a Polythene pond. And the reason I developed a ferce hatred of it before it was even finished can be summed up in two words—damp underwear.
Nichols’s travails with water features are among his funniest writing. And I have a polythene pond (I think).
So, for the giveway, simply make your guess as to ONE of the plants he might be referring to in the excerpts above (you can do all three if you like), and I will draw from them tomorrow (Thursday) at 9 a.m. EST. You need not be correct, obviously. But good for you if you can guess. Even googling wouldn’t be that easy.