garden customers – joy in work – orchids

by | Nov 9, 2017 | Latest Post | 2 comments

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Tuesday 8 November 1664

..So all the afternoon at my office till late, and then to bed, joyed in my love and ability to follow my business….

I am so invigorated- transformed would be too strong a word – when I  come across people who love their work. Whether it is someone in the local hardware shop, the local library, a builder who has just finished a ramshackle (to us) construction for his tools you can’t beat the thrill of human creativity.  Pepys loved his work and the social pleasures therein. He had a responsible job as administrator for the navy, apart from being an MP. No one can accuse him of not living life to the full.


Garden matters – I visited a new customer today. I spoke about her garden in glowing terms saying that it was a special and loved place and should be treated with respect.  Within ten minutes she started to tear and become emotional. She apologized as Brits normally do for expressing any kind of emotion and said that this was due to someone understanding her and her  world. I said  yes this was a common problem. You are either on someone’s wavelength (resonance) or not. A miss is as good as a mile. I am very lucky to be en rapport with my partner., So many do not, and they endure decades of loneliness  with no remission. This is a long prison sentence.

I visited my favorite customer and did 3-4 energetic hours to put the garden to sleep for the winter. The customer who is 86 was complaining of feeling dizzy. She has been suffering from kidney failure recently. She seemed to us to be more distant, and said ‘good bye’ to us not once but many times as if she did not want us to go. I hope this is not an ominous  sign but it did seem rather surreal.


Oncidium crocidipterum

Writhlington School, orchids section,  has a reputation justly earned as being one of the leading centres of expertise on orchids, all 28,000 varieties of them with countless hybrids.

The whole has been presided over from day one in 1995 by one of the teachers, Simon Pugh-Jones.  The scheme has been going for 22 years and they are now out growing the £250k building which houses the orchids in various climates.

Simon Pugh-Jones

So great is the prestige that the British Orchid Council Conference will be held at the school November 2nd – 4th, 2018.

I thought I knew what an orchid was and how it could be defined. I found such basic information lacking on the site of the school, link given above.  It is any of a large family of perennial epiphytic or terrestrial monocotyledonous plants that usually have showy 3-petaled flowers with their middle petal enlarged into a lip and differing from the others in shape and colour. For those of you who need to update your understanding of definitions, here they are.
Perennial = living for several years
epiphytic =  an organism that grows on the surface of a plant and derives its moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, water or from debris accumulating around it.  This is in contrast to
lithophytic = plants that grow on rock, feeding on water and decaying plants including their own dead tissue.

Jess, one of the pupils, was invited to come to our small gardening group for a lecture, which was given in the Town Hall here in Midsomer Norton.

Jess composing herself whilst we yatter away.

I was curious to see how a sixteen year old young lady would perform in front of a group. She has as yet no idea about ‘how to present’ and the various tricks and devices to keep your audience interested. She just stood there, waiting for our attention, and off she went. Who needs gimmickry when your confidence in your subject is so great. Her delivery was monotonic almost as an academic person would deliver a paper or a judge would deliver a judgement. I think that will remain her style – purist we could say.   (A purist is a person who insists on absolute adherence to traditional rules or structures).  She went through the Power Point presentation at rocket speed with a one liner statement per image when she could possibly have developed the theme a little more, not giving time for or inviting questions but they came anyway as people became interested in a particular image.

In future she may experiment with the value of  pausing after each slide and making brief eye contact with the audience to encourage questions. She will also learn to project her voice but I think that even with this she will need microphone assistance at larger meetings.   But hey – she did brilliantly for someone her age. I wish there were many more like her.

The above is given as a summary of what will be learned in the coming years.  I remember myself at that age being a quivering heap when asked to speak in public. My wife thought the above ‘sounded critical’ so this has caused me to consider the difference between a critique and criticism.

A critique is a detailed analysis and assessment of something. It is not pejorative. Contrast this to ‘criticism’ which is normally an expression of disapproval, and a judgement of the merits and faults of work. So, the above is definitely in the former category.

I remember when I was young I made some mistakes of presentation  in my life and the sad thing was that I went on making them for years because so I found out later my friends did not want to hurt my  feelings by sharing their observations. How I wish they would have told me because I would not have made a fool of myself. Anyway, I digress.

Jess has ‘about 50’ orchids in her own house. She has been with a group of 12 to Rwanda where they were able to donate a 3D printer, and spend some time with the local children.  Their trips abroad are to set up some orchids growing in schools. They teach them & help for the physical apparatus, microscopes etc… the same way they have in England, to help a school develop conservation, interests etc.

She admitted that orchids were an obsession and she spends all her spare time engaged in this field. Jess has been offered an internship at the Eden Project (see below)  when she leaves school and prior to university. She wants to do environment and conservation  studies at Oxford.

Money from the sale of these orchids goes to funding foreign study trips

The Eden Project has a justly high reputation. I went there 8 years ago and was impressed, but not by the crowds of people who walked, zombie like, through the whole.  I think that guided tours are a ‘must’ but there is little  space for this amidst the throng. It is a victim of its own success IMO and the prices. Wow! When I went it was £12.50 now (November 2017) it is £27.50 adult on the door, Students £22.50 wow! Children aged 5-16 £14 what!!! Children –4 free (that’s nice of them).  Two adults and two children is £71.  Now ain’t that a bargain. A generous 10% off if you book on line. One ticket does however cover return visits for one year so if you live in the area that is a bargain but as the powers that be know, most people will only be able to come once.

stratospheric entry prices but plenty to do (but pick a sunny day)

I hear that students are paid £3.50 per hour. Hardly enough to live unless accommodation is included. Each to his own.

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  1. Gareth Buckle

    Jess is not trained for public speaking and is increably nervous in these situations! I was immensely proud of her, (being her father)

    • guhnd

      I am so glad she is not ‘trained’ because the conviction comes through load and clear and that can be perceived by all. Mother Theresa was not trained either. A little discussion about voice projection etc will come in due course. Everything in its time.

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