What are they on about?

18th May 2001 at 01:00
David Newnham has no room for TV personalities in his garden

Imagine this. Every night when you go to bed, Sue Lawley is standing outside your bedroom window, and every morning when you pull back the curtains there she is, exactly where you left her.

Oh, and Michael Fish. For six months he's been keeping vigil by your back door. And if Sue looks bedraggled, you should see Michael. Why, only last week he collapsed on the patio (he's never liked strong winds).

Celebrity stalkers? Only in the botanical sense. For Sue Lawley and Michael Fish are roses - roses which will never share a bed in my garden if I have anything to do with it. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Lawley or Fish as people, any more than I have against those other broadcasting blooms, Angela Rippon, Anna Ford and Fulton Mackay ("I'm watching you, Fletcher!"). But as plants? Well, it doesn't seem right.

I'm not saying that every flower should be denied a human namesake. Far from it. Madame Alfred Carriere has always seemed a delightful name for a fragrant climber, and who better to grace a border than the great aunt of gardeners, ertrude Jekyll? But not all names have timeless elegance. I'm sure Fred Loads was most deserving, and likewise Dodo Hanbury Forbes, F J Grootendorst and Parkdirector Riggers. I just don't want these guys in my garden.

Nor do I wish to give a home to somebody's private joke. Chris's Baby, Jack's Wish, Sexy Rexy and Little Flirt might be OK on yachts, but on innocent plants they are frankly off-putting. Obviously, if people create a variety, they have the right to christen it. But if Intrepid, City of Leeds, Cheshire Life and National Trust are the best they can do, they'd be better off naming car ferries. Mind you, I'd rather have the bluntness of Liverpool Echo (not a newspaper but a pink floribunda) than the sticky sentimentality of My Heavenly Dream, Leave Me Sighing or Thinking Of You.

Sure, it helps some people to say it with flowers if you sell them varieties called Congratulations, Kind Regards, Many Happy Returns or Crazy For You. But who's going to want a dahlia called My Wife going to seed in the greenhouse? Not me. I think I'd rather have that Michael Fish.


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