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Patrick Vickery is a Scottish gardner and garden writer. This article is reprinted on these pages with his permission. To read a bit about Patrick go here.  You can visit his page at

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Garden Blether  - Plant  Decemberr  2002

By Patrick Vickery (Copyright reserved Patrick Vicery)                               

  The Plant Blether

There’s nothing like buying a plant to put you in the mood for a spot of gardening, is there? I’m fond of those plant stalls that you find at markets and car boot sales because you never know what you might come across and the plants are usually quite cheap.

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In the past I’ve sold plants at car boot sales myself, five or six pounds for a pitch, forty or fifty plants - maybe more - neatly labeled in smart pots, a flask of coffee and a tasty sandwich, then ’Bob’s your Uncle’, simply watch the cash roll in, or that’s the theory anyway, though in reality it doesn’t always work like that, not if there’s inclement weather to keep the plant buying public at bay, or an alternative attraction elsewhere (an international football match on the television perhaps). If so, you might be lucky to cover your costs. I find it’s best to treat these things as a social event myself, an opportunity for a good blether with old friends - blether, blether, blether - and a chance to catch up on the local gossip.

If you intend to sell plants yourself on a regular basis of course, then there are some pitfalls to be aware of.

    "You sold me a Geum last time," one man bellowed at me across the table, "only it was an Oriental Poppy!"

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Easy mistake to make. Best apologize when this happens, smile pleasantly, defer to the customer’s expert opinion (he was probably right anyway), offer a replacement, chat pleasantly about the weather, go for the ’distraction’ approach, non-confrontational.

    "And what about the Lupin that should have been red, it was lime green!!"

     "Well obviously a mutation, obviously, obviously, very rare indeed."  This said with a smile. "Weren’t you the lucky one?" 

And then of course there was the woman who wanted worms.

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    "Do you sell worms?" she enquired.
    "Worms for the garden?"
Do people really buy worms?  Was she serious? 
    "No, sorry, don’t do worms."

I enjoy a good browse around the plant stalls myself, always on the look out for plants with potential.  I remember one occasion particularly well. (A car boot sale, Inverness, one Saturday morning).  I was studying the horticultural display on the table in front of me - and paying particular attention, in fact, to some brown vegetation cascading down the side of a pot in a limp and dead sort of way - when the stallholder caught my eye.

    "Good plant, that," he said, "looks half-dead now, you know, half-dead, but you should have seen it yesterday, looked fully dead then, fully dead.  Dug it up myself, fine specimen, fifty pence to you, sir"

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Well what’s the world coming to, I asked myself, when somebody wants fifty pence for a dead plant? And worse still, I paid fifty pence for it too. He was very persuasive, you see, I didn’t like to say no.  Of course he could have been right, couldn’t he?  Maybe it wasn’t dead at all - or even half dead for that matter -  but simply in need of some tender loving care. 

So I took it home, planted it, administered tender loving care and then awaited signs of revival. 

Over the next few days, however, my initial suspicions were confirmed.  I’d bought a dead plant and paid good money for it too. Well what can you say to that?  ’Good Heavens’ about sums it up, doesn’t it?


Copyright 2002 Patrick Vickery

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This page was updated December 29/02

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