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The First Of Spring
by [?]

There may be gardeners who can appear to be busy all the year round–doing even in the winter, their little bit under glass. But for myself I wait reverently until the 22nd of March is here. Then, Spring having officially arrived, I step out on to the lawn and summon my head-gardener.

“James,” I say, “the winter is over at last. What have we got in that big brown-looking bed in the middle there?”

“Well, Sir,” he says, “we don’t seem to have anything do we, like?”

“Perhaps there’s something down below that hasn’t pushed through yet?”

“Maybe there is.”

“I wish you knew more about it,” I say angrily; “I want to bed out the macaroni there. Have we got a spare bed, with nothing going on underneath?”

“I don’t know, Sir. Shall I dig ’em up and have a look?”

“Yes, perhaps you’d better,” I say.

Between ourselves, James is a man of no initiative. He has to be told everything.

However mention of him brings me to my first rule for young gardeners–

“Never sow Spring Onions and New Potatoes in the same bed.”

I did this by accident last year. The fact is, when the onions were given to me, I quite thought they were young daffodils; a mistake any one might make. Of course I don’t generally keep daffodils and potatoes together; but James swore that the hard round things were tulip bulbs. It is perfectly useless to pay your head-gardener half-a-crown a week if he doesn’t know the difference between potatoes and tulip bulbs. Well, anyhow, there they were, in the Herbaceous Border together, and they grew up side by side; the onions getting stronger every day, and the potatoes more sensitive. At last, just when they were ripe for picking, I found that the young onions had actually brought tears to the eyes of the potatoes–to such an extent that the latter were too damp for baking or roasting, and had to be mashed. Now, as everybody knows, mashed potatoes are beastly.

THE RHUBARB BORDER

gives me more trouble than all the rest of the garden. I started it a year ago with the idea of keeping the sun off the young carnations. It acted excellently, and the complexion of the flowers improved tenfold. Then one day I discovered James busily engaged in pulling up the rhubarb.

“What are you doing?” I cried. “Do you want the young carnations to go all brown?”

“I was going to send some in to the cook,” he grumbled.

“To the cook! What do you mean? Rhubarb isn’t a vegetable.”

“No, it’s a fruit.”

I looked at James anxiously. He had a large hat on, and the sun couldn’t have got to the back of his neck.

“My dear James,” I said, “I don’t pay you half-a-crown a week for being funny. Perhaps we had better make it two shillings in future.”

However, he persisted in his theory that in the spring people stewed rhubarb in tarts, and ate it!

Well, I have discovered since that this is actually so. People really do grow it in their gardens, not with the idea of keeping the sun off the young carnations, but under the impression that it is a fruit. Consequently I have found it necessary to adopt a firm line with my friends’ rhubarb. On arriving at any house for a visit, the first thing I say to my host is, “May I see your rhubarb bed? I have heard such a lot about it.”

“By all means,” he says, feeling rather flattered, and leads the way into the garden.

“What a glorious sunset,” I say, pointing to the west.

“Isn’t it?” he says, turning round; and then I surreptitiously drop a pint of weed-killer on the bed.

Next morning I get up early and paint the roots of the survivors with iodine.

Once my host, who for some reason had got up early too, discovered me.