There may not be fairies at the bottom of our garden – they live in the house instead – but we are now proud owners of a handsome garden gnome. This is what the Encyclopaedia Britannica has to say about the diminutive mythical creatures:
Gnome, in European folklore, dwarfish, subterranean goblin or earth spirit who guards mines of precious treasures hidden in the earth. He is represented in medieval mythologies as a small, physically deformed (usually hunchbacked) creature resembling a dry, gnarled old man. Gob, the king of the gnome race, ruled with a magic sword and is said to have influenced the melancholic temperament of man.
Harsh, but it could be me, I guess, especially the small and gobby bit. No doubt I’ll be gnarled one day too.
Little statues of gnomes are popular garden ornaments across the realm – from cute to quirky, silly to satirical, naughty to the truly naff.
But only two people in the world have a handmade bespoke gnomic effigy of Joe Jacobson, the Welsh professional football player, in full Wycombe Wanderers strip. It was a surprise (and deliciously surprising) birthday gift from the luscious lady who owns the second Joe gnome. If Wycombe Wanderers ever make it to the Premier League, it could be worth a bob or two.
As for the cards I received this year, there seems to be a pattern developing. What are they trying to tell me?
I hear bees are becoming an endangered species and if we don’t do something about it, we’re stuffed too – that is if Mother Nature doesn’t wipe us out with a nasty virus first. And who could blame her? To do my bit to placate the gods I bought a bee bomb – a collection of wildflower seeds which, when in bloom, attract bees and a host of other pollinators. I scattered the seeds over a raised bed, watered them in and forgot about it. Come June, to my delight and astonishment, the bomb had exploded into a riot of daisies, cornflowers, poppies, marigolds and many others this city boy has never heard of and couldn’t pick out in a line up. The tangled bouquet is strafed daily by squadrons of flying bugs while ants and ladybirds harvest the abundance of juicy aphids from the forest of matted stems.
Elsewhere on the farm, a curious mole poked his head above ground before thankfully moving on to greener pastures and a hedgehog emerged from the undergrowth next door to feed, oblivious to the pair of wood pigeons shagging on a gate. The love birds enjoyed it so much they came back the following afternoon for seconds. Meanwhile, larger fauna basked in the warm sunshine feeding on pink gin.
Close to the heart of Norwich, adjacent to the Catholic Cathedral, lies a hidden garden tumbling into a former chalk quarry. The Plantation Garden was a labour of love for one Henry Trevor, a prosperous Victorian cabinet maker. For forty years, eccentric Henry lavished time, effort and considerable money on his enchanted folly. But by the Second World War, it had been abandoned and almost forgotten. That was until a dedicated group of volunteers rolled up their sleeves, hacked away the weeds and restored the garden to its former ornamental glory. Today, the lush shrubbery plays host to jazz picnics, open air film screenings and vintage fairs. But most days, it’s a tranquil haven from the city that surrounds it. Henry may have been bonkers but his legacy is rather magical.