Browsing Archives for July 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…

This story was originally posted on August 25th, 2007 during the construction of our house.

Yesterday, the country doctor and I spent almost an ENTIRE morning together running errands in Manhattan, Kansas. The van needed a repair, so he was forced to pick me up – on his day off – and I then forced him to walk through several furniture stores, pick out paint chips at Sherwin Williams and buy a cup of coffee at Bluestem Bistro, my favorite Manhattan coffee shop.

The Country Doctor does not like to shop…and he likes to buy stuff EVEN LESS. The only thing the man ever purchases with ease are trees. He loves trees. He loves to buy and to plant trees. But everything else – no.

Needless to say, as I drug him from from shop to shop he was basically writhing in agony. He was also practically sweating drops of blood in fear that I might actually BUY SOMETHING. He begged me to allow him to get a cup of coffee at a gas station, but I took him go to a very nice coffee shop instead where he stared in horror as I purchased a latte, a cinnamon roll, AND a piece of baklava along with his large coffee. He watched me from the edge of the shop looking like he wanted to hang himself, while I waited for my latte’. The man is just unbelievably unable to cope with any hint of consumerism – especially hoity toity coffee shop consumerism.

We had this conversation while I waited for my latte’…

Me – I feel like the gap between us is widening.

Country Doctor – Why?

Me – Because, you are not mellowing in your old age. You are becoming an even more pronounced version of yourself… more intolerant to shopping, more intolerant to changes in your routine, and even more intolerant – if that is possible – of hoity toity coffee shops!

Country Doctor – I just have a hard time buying things…

Me – I KNOW!!! The only things you can buy, without going into cardiac arrest, are trees!

Country Doctor- There is a reason for that! You see, furniture should be bought in the future. But trees should only be bought in the past.

Me – What?

Country Doctor – Furniture should be bought in the future because styles are always changing. Trees however, should have been purchased and planted years ago…in the PAST… so that they would already be growing! Not buying trees is a crime!

How can I argue with this logic? We bought nary a stick of furniture that day and as we passed the Garden Center on the way home, we pulled into the parking lot so that the Country Doctor could look at trees for a while and get his tree fix, but we didn’t buy anything. It was too late. We should have bought them in the past.

I am going to take a week off from blogging to catch up on a few projects around the house and to get our vacation planned.

In the meantime, I am going to post some re-runs.  But before I go, there is one last story that needs to be told….

Here come the horses….

Here come the lovely clean-up crew behind the horses during our small town 4th of July parade…

Here they are in action…

Woo Hoo!


This one is a knock-out!


I would not want to run into her in a dark alley!

We start ‘em young around here!

You just never know when the important skill of wearing a dress full of balloons and scooping horse crap off the street might come in handy.

It is good to teach them young.