Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Who says that plants don't have feelings? The Prince of Wales and I are as one on this matter.

Never let it be said that plants can't be grateful. They really, really care. Take foxgloves for example. They look fragile and elegant, as if even a breeze would lay them low. And after December's big quake mine were in trouble.

The liquefaction around my house from that quake amounted to about twelve moderate barrow loads and I had shovelled some down the apparently bottomless holes and trenches around the place and tipped the rest onto a large bare part of the garden. There it lay, a grey and horrible silty desert. Elsewhere foxgloves had scattered their seeds into inhospitable cracks and crevices and there were baby foxgloves everywhere, struggling but determined. I figured that if they could fight for their lives in rubble they might survive in silt.

In one of my rescue-everything moods rather than my usual off-with-its-head mood I collected the seedlings and filled the silty desert with them, murmuring encouragement and happy thoughts. The plants grew like Topsy. So did intruders. A couple of weeks ago I waded into the sea of plants and began yanking left, right and centre at weeds. One minute I was leaning across a rhododendron reaching for a stubborn thingy and the next I was full-length and face down in foxgloves, still with glasses perched safely on my nose.

When I scrambled inelegantly out of that patch you could hardly see where I'd been, so soft, cushiony and protective the growth. And far from retiring hurt the foxgloves are now sprouting beautiful tall, pink and white heads. They are tougher than they look, they know who their friends are, and believe that one good turn deserves another. HRH would understand.

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