While driving to the health club for a swim this afternoon, I listened in to a gardening programme. It was possibly Gardeners’ Question Time but I couldn’t be sure as I missed the beginning of the programme,
when presumably this would have been made clear.
One of the questions posed to the Panel of Experts concerned an apple tree. The owner of the apple tree
(it was a Cox’s variety) was so worried about the state of her tree that she had even brought in a sample for the experts to mull over. Obviously, this being radio rather than TV, we listeners didn’t have the advantage of seeing the Expert
draw the specimen from its paper bag but she did a really good job of transmitting her distaste at what she saw. I could almost see her wrinkling her nose in horror. In my imagination, her face resembled Mr B’s when I sneeze without warning him first
– shock and awe, someone once called it, I seem to remember. What? Oh, yes, of course I remember that was a war – it’s war in our house when I sneeze without warning, sending Mr B into instant meltdown.
Anyway, the Gardening Expert pronounced on the Apple Tree Problem in a matter of seconds. “Scab!” she declared. Never was so much disgust expressed in a single word. Well, not on
the subject of a poor old apple tree. Did the tree bear any fruit? the grower was asked. Apparently this year it bore a single apple; last year nary a one. The Panel of Experts was agreed that the grower would do best to cut her losses and fell the tree.
They made a number of suggestions about other varieties of apple tree which would be easier to grow than Cox’s. If I ever decide to grow an apple tree, I will be sure to remember. Not the names of the other varieties, as I was driving at the time –
but I won’t be planting a scabby Cox’s apple tree. No way, Jose.
I love my garden but nobody could call me a good gardener. Our garden, in fact, is
a Beautiful Accident. Like Topsy, in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, it “just growed.” Mr B frequently complains that it has “just growed too much” but I like to think of it as “mature”. As I have explained before, I am not
into digging and delving. I do, however, like planting pots and hanging baskets, sowing seeds in trays and transplanting the one or two which make it to seedlings (my success rate is on the low side) into flower pots. At least everything I plant is planted
with love. I also like trying different experiments. Last year’s tomatoes were only a mediocre success, falling prey to what might have been the tomato version of apple scab, but this year’s sunflowers are really quite spectacular. Amazing to think
I have lived to such a Great Age (as Young Faris would doubtless have reminded you, if he were writing today’s blog rather than me) without ever having grown a sunflower before. It just shows that you are Never Too Old To Learn, which is one of my retirement
I wonder what “scab” looks like? I check it out on Wikipaedia and find out that it is caused by the “ascomycete
fungus Venturia inaequalis.” I bet you didn’t know that, did you? Even the Gardening Expert
on the radio never disclosed this priceless piece of information to her listening audience, though it is possible that she simply didn’t want to appear a clever clogs. There is a photo of infected apples, too. They look pretty disgusting and I am starting
to agree with the experts that the owner of the apple tree may as well root it out and start again with one of the other varieties whose names I don’t remember.
It also occurs to me that diseases – whether of the plant or human variety - always have unpleasant names. Scab is a case in point, but there are many others. Think “measles” for example, what a horrible, measly word that is.
Chicken pox. The chicken bit is fine, of course, I love chickens and particularly I love the eggs they lay – but the addition of that word “pox” and immediately it becomes the stuff of nightmares - spotty faces, warnings not to scratch and
bottles of soothing calamine lotion. The only childhood illness which sounds as if it might be more fun than it is, in my opinion, is mumps. I think that is possibly because it rhymes with jumps. And chumps.
I missed the end of the gardening programme because I had arrived at the health club. Mr B has been muttering that I am not exactly getting value for money from my membership these days so I need to
be paying more visits to challenge his perception. Apart from anything else, swimming up and down in my usual slow but stately fashion gives me time a-plenty to think about exactly what I can write about in my Daily Blog. This might well lead to more polished,
thoughtful and beautifully expressed writing.
Or then again, on the strength of today’s random offering, possibly not...