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  • My 'garden' is a front balcony, twenty-five paces long to four wide, and my plants share it with Texan Star. This means that anything flowering has to go up onto window sills because when she gets excited her tail thrashes away the blooms.

    Chance, Peter Sellers in 'Being There' (in Italian, 'Oltre il Giardino'), knew what he was doing in the garden.

    I haven't the faintest idea.

    One of the only things I immediately recognised when it came up was the fennel plant you see in the photo (which was a relic from our fridge that I pressed down into a pot of earth one day) and only because it is unmistakeable. Every tiny seed is an exact replica of the parent. I filed this photo as 'Feng Shui Fennel' because contemplating its superb economy of design, early in the morning, has been the nearest I have got, for many years, to peace.

    The 'garden' now is a riot of green, and blooming plants - I managed to recognise a geranium the other day...well, you'd have to be pretty thick not to. But seeing those other mystery plants was a source of unease to me, at least until yesterday.

    Yesterday, Son1's best friend, Thomas, came round. I couldn't BELIEVE my luck: he's in his final technical High School Diploma year in Agrarian Sciences. Plus, like most here, his family have land they cultivate. Who better to enlighten me?

    Was I made to feel really REALLY small! What I'd thought was a rather unusual sage cultivar was, in fact, a lavender bush. And there I'd been nipping off incipient flowers like billy-o. I've been profusely apologizing to her ever since. Then, another plant, whose first tender shoots I'd been gaily garnishing our salads with, convinced they were a type of watercress, turned out to be an azalea (aren't they poisonous? I didn't dare ask). I'd totally failed to spot strawberry plants; not surprising, really, as I hadn't actually planted them in the real sense of the word: they'd sprung from kitchen relics, once again.

    I've made Thomas solemnly promise to pop back again tomorrow. I'm not leaving things to chance any more.

    Image: original photo, thoroughly buggered about with ('Enhancement by another name...?') using Smart Photo Editor, because I wanted YOU to see what I do.
    Ahhhh... a little profanity gives a lot of satisfaction, especially when it's not expected. Oh, I can Duchess-of-Cambridge away with the best of them, but in my childhood, working with Papà in his business, I picked up some beauties of expression from, among other places, Smithfield Meat Market in London which, I can assure you, is no haunt for gentlemen. And I've never been able to resist slipping a good one in, now and again. The more lah-di-dah the conversation, the more I enjoy the contrast (even if nobody else does). So, it's not surprising I have a sneaking love for Sassarese, which uses the word 'cazzo' (prick), sweetly shortened to 'katz' - universal hilarity in Beginner's English classes...sigh! - as a kind of punctuation:
    "blahblahblah /katz/ blahblah /katz/ blahblahblahblah /katz/...". You've got the idea.

    I've not yet got comfortable with this stage, but I'm working on it - in private, for the moment.

    And, in the manner of John F. Kennedy, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin eine faulmautzBich'.

    [with humble apologies to our German comrades-in-arms for the liberty I have taken with their marvellous language]
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