If you are going to the Chelsea Flower Show next week you must make a point of visiting the Toff’s Garden that I have specially designed.
As you pass through the entrance with the sign saying “Trespassers Will Be Horsewhipped”, elegantly inscribed in poker-work on the cross section of a sustainable tree trunk, you will notice the row of top hats I have used as hanging baskets. I have alternated grey and black toppers and I think they set off the blooms most effectively.
Riding boots also make amusing plant containers. Just drill a few holes in the sides for the plants to emerge. You will see them placed strategically round my garden. They are ideal for growing strawberries. In these times of austerity it’s a good idea to cultivate one’s own vegetables, so I have included half a dozen very handsome Lobb boots in which I’ve planted potatoes and tomatoes. You can see these at the far end of the garden, just beyond the rockery – which, incidentally, contains many chunks of stone that have been in my family for several generations.
All my bedding plants have been privately educated. They are therefore much hardier, having been through a regime of daily cold baths and lots of Latin. I had the bright idea of planting my petunias in diagonal stripes of different colours to correspond to the ties of some of the smarter regiments. This is something anybody can do – provided you know your regimental ties – and it also works wonderfully well in a window box.
I’m rather proud of the lawn in my Toff’s Garden. Notice the way I have broken up the conventional rectangle shape by laying down Rolls-Royce tyre tracks across the far right-hand corner. It gives the impression of some careless toff guest having reversed his vehicle across the lawn at the end of a party for old school chums. You don’t have to own a Rolls-Royce to achieve this effect. Most decent garden centres now stock the Trakmasta, a neat device for printing the tyre tracks of your chosen car on any lawn. It costs £29.99, including VAT.
I have also poshed up the garden shed by the simple means of digging a moat round it and adding a tradesmen’s entrance. Speaking of moats, I know we have all gone mad for water features these days, but why not try something a little more original? In a secluded area of my garden where people can go to stitch up deals with fellow members of the Establishment, fix a place at university for a son or daughter, or organise a peerage, I have installed a Pimm’s feature, in which that delightful beverage trickles over cleverly arranged cubes of ice. It’s nothing too ostentatious; just very discreet, in keeping with the whole atmosphere of that spot.
It’s always a problem, with seedlings, to find a way of scaring off the birds and the lower orders. I find champagne corks are the answer. Ideally, you should pop them roughly every two minutes, but you can also just string half a dozen or so together and hang them over the plants so they swing in the breeze. I find Veuve Clicquot corks best for intimidating most types of garden bird.
The only way of dealing with slugs is to make them socially ill at ease. Just stick two or three copies of Tatler in the soil near your most delicate young plants and most slugs will just want to slink away and the rest will shrivel up with a sense of inferiority. On the other hand, it is time to accept that there is nothing you can do about greenfly. The only thing you can do is ensure that the greenfly on your roses are upper class. Breeders can now supply batches of greenfly from privileged backgrounds which you can place on your roses to drive out the more common aphids. This is the natural, class-war solution to the greenfly problem.
I am convinced that the Toff’s Garden is the future, so don’t delay a moment longer. Sprinkle cigar ash on your compost and get your dibber monogrammed.