Magazine article The Spectator

I Had to Have Her

Magazine article The Spectator

I Had to Have Her

Article excerpt

I can't remember how many times a minute men are supposed to think of sex, but, whatever it is, I fear I have a similar problem with my garden. As I venture further into my thirties, I am becoming a man obsessed.

Sometimes it gets so bad, I can't concentrate on my work. All too often, I find myself abandoning my word processor and treading gingerly across my newly laid lawn to see how the girls in my SO-ft harem have fared since my last visit. (Which, like as not, took place about half an hour before.)

My pride and joy are my Florida siebold (one Alba plena, one Bicolor). As fellow sufferers will be aware, these are quite the coolest, sexiest babes in the clematis world. Total bitches, though: high maintenance, moody, hyper-sensitive -- they have to be treated right before they deign to reward you with their pretty, pale-green flowers come July.

Luckily they can't read, so they won't realise that a couple of weekends ago I was unfaithful to them. Leafing through one of my favourite porn mags -- the RHS Encyclopaedia of Plants and Flowers -- I spotted this drop-dead gorgeous number with red, waxy flowers. Gravetye Beauty, she was called, and I just had to have her. She was pretty elusive, but eventually I found her in a high-class Somerset brothel called Hadspen House. What with the rising sap and all, I couldn't resist picking up one of her dainty friends -- Viticella alba luxurians -- as well.

Sorry -- yet again I've forgotten that this is meant to be a television column, so I'd better move swiftly on to some of the redhot gardening programmes I've been watching this week. We'll start with Channel 5's The Great Garden Game (Wednesday).

In pornographic terms, this is the televisual equivalent of 'reader's wives' -- alternately amusing and toe-curling, cheap, cheerful and amateurish. It's filmed at posh country estates on what I assume is one of those handicams that a BBC friend warned me the other day are becoming increasingly the norm as television plunges ever further down-market. The presenters -- Clare, a nice woman in desperate need of sartorial advice, and Paul, an exceedingly camp David Gower lookalike -- urge two teams of jolly proles to complete gardening-related tasks within a time limit.

This week's challenge was to replace a grass path between two rose beds with a gravel one. It was actually very informative. If I didn't believe it was the duty of the wealthy man to give employment to the artisan, I think I'd now be able to repeat the process at home. …

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