The Practical Gardener

gray shed on white and green field near trees during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on


The Practical Gardener

My garden is a rabble
Of the pushiest of weeds;
I wander through the scrabble
Of these self-selecting seeds.
I really should uproot them,
But in truth, I’m loath to scoot them,
When they bring the place alive, alive,
Where lesser blooms won’t thrive.

I love the weeds for their weediness,
For their entrepreneurial greediness,
With none of your hot-housey neediness.
Keep all your grasses and sedges and reeds,
Just give me a garden of nothing but weeds.

My rose-bush is no stunner,
And my aster’s called it quits.
My beans have done a runner,
And my melon’s gone up-tits.
But see my clamb’ring bramble,
And my bindweed web and ramble,
And my nettles stretching high, so high:
At least they’re never shy.

I love the weeds for their weediness,
For their never gone-to-seediness,
With none of your quaint little tweediness.
Keep all your caulis and marrows and swedes,
Just give me a garden of nothing but weeds.–

With maggots on the rise,
And with aphids by the score,
I hope to soon see butterflies,
And ladybirds galore.
So when the slugs come feeding,
They just help me with the weeding.
Those bugs may all belong, belong,
But so does blackbird song.

I love the weeds for their weediness,
For their naught-to-invasive speediness,
With none of your lack-of-succeediness.
Keep all your cultivars, hybrids and breeds,
Just give me a garden of nothing but weeds.



Butterfly Bushwacked

Buddleia davidii by unknown


Butterfly Bushwacked

Buddleia !  Buddleia !  Ev’rywhere, buddleia !
Growing in gardens too small to contain it.
Growing in wasteland and making it muddier –
Railways and quarries won’t even restrain it.
And then in July, see it all turn to violet
As thousands of flowers bring stamen and style.
Soon, we think, soon comes each painted-up pilot
To flitter and dazzle and make it worthwhile.
But here in the suburbs, with bushes amassing,
There’s plenty of purple, but no Blues in sight.
Just when did we last see a butterfly passing,
Aside from the moths and the odd Cabbage White ?
Here in the suburbs, these shrubs ramble well,
Yet we won’t see a Camberwell Beauty near Peckham,
Nor ravenous inchworms descending to wreck ’em !
So no Painted Lady, no Marbled and Tortoiseshell,
Won’t see an Argus, a Skipper or Admiral.
Monarchs and Emperors too have set sail,
So where the Fritillary ?  Wherefore the Swallowtale ?
Coppers and Brimstones have melted away,
Hairstreaks and Ringlets receded to grey,
The Gatekeeper’s keyless,
The Speckle Wood’s treeless,
And where are the Peacocks we avidly spy ?
Comma and Map and Wall,
Where do their larvae crawl ?
Where do their mothers all gravidly fly ?
Small Heath and Meadow Brown,
Not to be seen in town –
Naught but irruptions of davidii !
And soon it’s September, and blooming is ending,
And then they’re just weeds that need far too much tending.
Buddleia !  Buddleia !  Ev’rywhere, buddleia !
I tell you, the purple invasion is pending…



The Good Life

Carmelites in the Garden by Roger Guillemot


The Good Life

This abbey is the work of nuns,
Who sing her offices each day
Without a tenor in their range,
And in-between, they farm her grange:
They tend her pens and rabbit runs,
They milk her goats and rick her hay,
They gather greens and fatten veal,
Grow herbs to spice and herbs to heal.

They fish her trout and brew her ale,
They harvest cochineal from scale,
And tucked away in back-court sheds
Are pigeon-cotes and mushroom beds,
Her mulb’ry trees, that once was tried,
Still bloom – though all the silkworms died.
The snailery’s a better omen,
Raising broods of brown and Roman.

They see her fields are sown and scythed,
Her sheep are shorn, her orchards plucked,
They see her queens are safely hived,
Her cocks are henned and drakes are ducked.
They churn her cheese and bake her buns
Until their tender hands grow blisters –
What this abbey lacks in sons,
She made up for in sisters.