13 JUNE 1987, Page 54


Worse than gnomes


IN Competition No. 1475 you were asked for ingenious, loony and horrible suggestions as to how to 'improve' the


In the realm of interior decoration no- body has ever touched S. J. Perelman for sheer grotesquerie (see Crazy Like a Fox, I think; a sensible friend has stolen my Copy). Monica G. Ribon kindly sent me a Daily Express clipping which made some of the entries look almost tasteful by compari- son. A woman called Anita Rodick, founder of The Body Shop, has a garden in Sussex featuring wooden palm-trees, a vast pastel-coloured pergola to match the col- our of the drawing-room, a giant pink and white draughtsboard (`because I can't play chess'), and a 'Yellow Brick Road' of gold- painted stones leading to no-entry signs and a 'crock of gold' beneath a painted rainbow. Daffodils are uprooted on princi- ple. The landscape gardener was an ex- Sandhurst cadet who 'learned his art at Roddy Llewellyn's college', which no doubt hands out florally decorated diplomas.

A good entry, with Len Wellgerbil, Paul Griffin, Gerard Benson, Kris Quater- mass and Russell Lucas just failing to make the cut. Those of you who suggested larcenously acquired tombstones struck me on a sensitive spot, since I have recently, for my own garden, removed one noseless angel, two chipped urns and a sort of Corinthian pillar from the rubbish dump of a well-known London cemetery.

The winners below have £18 each, and the bonus bottle of 904 Gran Riserva 1970 from La Rioja Alto, the gift of Mr David Balls of Wines from Spain, goes by the whisker of a gnome's beard to Charles Mosley.

Plastic giant hogweed screens the dustbins and isn't subject to seasonal wilting. The Secret Garden Centre, Ongar, sells bunches of fifteen stalks in an arresting range of Hiroshima Vermi- lion, Day-Glo Gamboge and Bruise Puce.

What a bore it is having to mow the lawn at least twice a week in summer! Why not asphalt over your open spaces? Asphalt can he a fun surface — especially when it's made up of tiny chips of quartz crystal that twinkle and wink all night long. No more coaxing of glow-worms up from the swamp by the local slurry pit!

The latest digital sundial from South Korea is perfect for those overcast days. No need to pop your head out of doors if it's raining, either. It speaks the time at quarter-hour intervals and is pluvial-powered rather than the more familiar solar kind. A definite plus in Britain's sorry climate!

(Charles Mosley) There was something missing from the Wanda Wildflower Garden described so evocatively by Marcus Burgeon last month.

Running water. What is a meadow without it?

Orthentix has solved the problem with a DIY meandering stream (two, three or four bends to suit most gardens). Our number one re-usable resource is pumped round the circuit at an ecologically approved rate, to encourage insect life and add to the naturalness of your vista.

The pump is concealed in a plastic elm-stump (doesn't it look real?). And at minimal extra cost you can own a remote-controlled kingfisher (true-to-life colours) which will fly out of his hole at your bidding and perch on a twig, uttering his shrill call (absolutely correct pitch).

Now there is no need to rise at dawn to go bird-watching or distress the children with the grisly sight of fish being swallowed whole.

(Jean Hayes) Dunmowin Associates Ltd (maintenance-free plastic grottoes a speciality) have launched their new catalogue. The highlight is a low-cost, high-profile re-landscaping scheme which will make the neighbours think the grass really is greener on your side of the electric fence (an optional extra, this). With a revolving circular lawn of artificial grass, life-size models of grazing sheep, a topiary hedge in the shape of your favourite cat, and a mock vine with grapes from which you can squeeze chilled white wine, this is a connoisseur's garden.

Nor have they neglected tradition. Free with this scheme comes a giant gnome bestriding the front path like a colossus.

But it is the vegetable garden which provides the touch of class, and a chance to feel history at the end of your hoe. Now you can grow your brassicas and early potatoes among the trenches and shell-holes of the Somme battlefield, loving- ly reconstructed with an extensive No-Man's- Land for the hardier herbs.

(Watson Weeks) • June: As the weather improves old wellington boots can be used as 'planters'. Fill with peat and either autumn-flowering bulbs or carrots and parsnips for long straight growth. Left strategically in the right patch, they combine wit with practicality. The larger the holes, the better the drainage.

Now that it has flowered, the wistaria's interest may be prolonged by spraying the foliage with pastel shades of aerosol paint. On a patio the colours should co-ordinate with the lounger or even the barbecue accessories. The shrub is unharmed since all its leaves are shed annually, allowing different colour schemes for the following year.

By night uplighting and spots add depth and tranquillity to dusky bowers. Full-length mirrors brighten corners by day, and when placed behind statuary give you unbeatable all-round value from your garden art.

(Paul Antony)