Beverley Nichols Visits CDW

July 7th, 2009

This post originally ran on June 17th, 2008. It remains one of my very favorite posts and Beverly Nichols remains one of my favorite authors. I hope to find one of Beverly’s homes during our stay in London even though none of his homes are open to the public. My plan is to stand on the street in front of one of his former houses (Beverly has since passed) and pretend to be looking for one of my kids… or maybe a lost dog or cat. This way, I have an excuse to wander behind the house and get a gander at the garden. I will have to come up with a different story for why I am snapping photos of everything in site… gathering evidence?… looking for clues?… testing the aperture?… collecting specimens?… Do any of these sound legit?

Evidently, when you live in the English Countryside, in a large rambling Georgian mansion, surrounded on all sides by an outrageously gorgeous garden, the public occasionally shows up and demands a tour.

This is what happened to me a few days ago… except it wasn’t the public.


It was Beverley Nichols HIMSELF!

It would appear he got lost somewhere between Shropshire and Nebraska! I invited him in, made him a cup of tea, and then offered to give him a tour of my own feeble garden. He glanced at his watch and looked at me nervously. I noted his hesitation, was somewhat perturbed by it, picked up a pair of garden shears and clicked them menacingly. Mr. Nichols rapidly agreed to accompany me on a walk through my garden.

As we stepped outside, I explained to Mr. Nichols that I work in a Garden Center, so there is probably very little he can teach me, as I already know everything there is to know about plants and shrubs and flowering thingys. However, if he has any questions regarding grub control, he may want to look elsewhere.

As we advanced to my newly planted shade garden, Mr. Nichols was quick to point out that it was a little sunny for a shade garden.

“Yes”, I answered, “Perhaps… but then again Mr. Nichols, maybe… you are just a little dumb for a smart person!” And then I clicked my shears again.

Beverley cleared his throat. He said that my Hostas and my Coral Bells would probably not do very well in the sun and that I might want to consider moving them to a more suitable location

I told Mr. Nichols to stick it in his stick hole, reminded him that he doesn’t know everything and na na na na na and SEE that little oak tree over there? See it? Can’t you see it? Someday in about ten years that little tree will shade my Hostas just fine!

Mr. Nichols looked at my tiny oak tree muttered something about a wealth of olde oakes and walked briskly towards my Penny Mac Hydrangeas.

I grabbed him by his crisply ironed trousers, clicked my shears a few times and told him to wait up!

He came to a stand still and said shakily, nice Penny Macs.

I narrowed my eyes to two slits and asked him what he thought about my garden path.

He said, well…. uh… um…what exactly are your plans for your garden path…?

I mimicked him in a high pitched voice, “Wel… uh… um… l what exactly are YOUR plans for YOUR garden path?”

Mr. Nichols did not know what to say to that.

He was pleased with my urns.

I told him to shut up.

Then Mr. Nichols saw the new kitty.

I had forgotten how much Beverley loved cats.

I tried to show him my Oak Leaf Hydrangeas also planted in the sun even though they much prefer shade, but he was crouching by the solitary knockout rosebush talking to the new kitty who still does not have a name. I tolerated this for a few minutes, then I clicked my shears and pushed him towards my newest creation… my masterpiece… my Piece De Resistance! I call it my…

Whatever I Grab Before I Leave My Shift At The Garden Center Garden.

It is a wild and unruly collection of Lavender, Tomatoes, Basil, Marigolds, Cilantro, Butterfly Bush, Hollyhocks, Cleome and Valerian I explained to Beverley that this particular garden is kind of … it is kind of um…. moderne... and scraggly… but scraggly on purpose… because that is how I carefully planned it…

Mr. Nichols was as silent as the tomb.

We wandered back to the Annabelle Hydrangea and he breathed an audible sigh of relief.

I asked him if he would like to go for a little boat ride as I pushed the prick of the garden shears into his back. It was then that I realized that I was still wearing my pajamas.

Mr. Nichols pretend not to notice my discomfiture and casually slipped on a life-jacket.

This small act of kindness.

This gallant attempt to overlook my silly pink pajama pants.

Well I didn’t…

I wasn’t sure…



I broke down.

I just couldn’t take it anymore!

Through wrenching sobs and guttural expulsions, and sheets of cottonmouth slobber, I explained that I was never going to have a garden like his garden.



That I was up against a thicket of thorny boys who left their muddy shoes all over my house and who had seven hundred baseball games each before the summer was over and that I had so much dirty laundry to catch up on that I had taken to hiding bits of it in the filing cabinets and under the area rugs and in between my teeth, and that my dishwasher was full again and that we were out of milk again and that my blog stats were abysmal, and that I really don’t know anything about gardening…


Nothing at ALL!

I was just making that up… and in truth I will probably kill all my plants before the summer is over, and I don’t have a full time gardener named Hobbes or O’Toole or Brisbane or whatever his full time gardener was named and I also don’t have a live-in housekeeper named Ms. Wrench, who is terribly overworked because…




I dropped the garden shears in the pond and we both watched them drift harmlessly away as I covered my hands with my face and sobbed some more.

Suddenly I felt a calm hand patting the top of my head.

I looked up into the sympathetic face of Beverley Nichols.

He helped me out of the boat and led me back to my Penny Mac Hydrangeas.

See this bloom, he said.

Yes… I sputtered.

That is all you need. Just one bloom. The bees will come… The flowers will open… The trees will grow… The Shrubs will get more shrubbish…

You will see…

I stared at the pink blossom awhile and felt little prickles of hope dotting the interiors of my fly specked soul.

When I looked back up…

Beverley was gone…


  • [...] think this urn will do just fine, though I do wonder what Beverley would [...]

  • Lisa:

    Pick Me…Pick Me!!!
    (Isn’t that what all the pretty flowers say to all the little girls who walk past them?!)
    I really want to read those books!
    My favorite flower of all time would have to be the pretty pink wild roses that grow on old fences in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma.(actually it isn’t nowhere, it is Pretty Water, lovely little place to live.)
    I also REALLY love pink tulips. If I ever open a Flower Shop I would name it “Kissed by Tulips” get it?!? Tulips….TwoLips!!!
    Ok, I hope that is enough rambling to make me the winner!!!
    Lisa Parker
    16280 w 81st s
    Sapulpa, Ok 74066
    (I am going to go ahead and include my addy so that you will know where to send my books when you make me the WINNER! LOL)

  • Love it!

  • Neena:

    What an entertaining story. An English garden is where I would love to read every book I pick up. It is my idea of the perfect reading spot, which magically gets weeded and trimmed and deadheaded and everything else by someone who doesn’t share my love of reading and needs something to do while I read.

  • Rae:

    Your new kitty is very cute….your garden still looks better then mine does : )
    I could use some new reading material…our library is like 15 miles from the house : (….and it’s NOT on the way to Walmart!

  • Jeanie:

    I wish I could grow hydrangeas in Texas, but it is far too hot here. Your garden is lovely!

  • I thought I was the only one hooked on Mr. N. Now I guess I must share. good luck on the house tour.

  • Shelley:

    Thanks to you I’m introduced to yet another wonderful writer. Just picked up 2 of his books from my library and looking forward to reading!

  • Helen:

    How wonderful to find another lover of the books of Beverley Nichols.

  • Southern Gal:

    Just want to say the Annabelle Hydrangea is to die for! I’ve never seen those blooms before. My daughter used green/white hydrangeas for her wedding to decorate the church and in the bouquets. Lovely, lovely flowers.

  • Anne:

    Aahhhhh… an afternoon with Beverley Nichols. What I wouldn’t give for that. My heart smiles when I learn that someone else has discovered my favorite author. We’re very lucky! For me he was hilarious and honest. He was never crewel or disrespectful. Such an admirable man. He would have been fun to know, don’t you think? I wish I had been alive to read his weekly columns. If so, I would still be sitting here wishing for more from Mr. Nichols. I just read “Down the Kitchen Sink”, which, like all his other books, had funny elements and very sad ones too. (the deaths of Five and Gaston). It’s all life, good and not so good, that he writes about. I love that, and wish I could thank him for the joy he brings me.

  • brenda:

    I just found you, and am wondering where you’ve been all my life. I, too, plant hydrangeas in sunny areas and spend all summer/early fall watering them. I also have a love/hate thing with PW.

    Bookmarked and a promise to myself to read everything you’ve written so far.

    And you, of course, expected the link to my own blog – just started this Spring.