Difficult garden customers – the wonders of bees

Monday 14 November 1664

….So home (to his office), where infinite busy till 12 at night, and so home to supper and to bed…

I imagine his housemaids had to wait up until Pepys came home in order to serve his supper. ‘Overtime’ was a concept not in vogue at the time, nor is it today in many countries.  Anyway I have lots to write about so off we go.


Today we had the second and final day our idyllic garden  job which alas had a bitter ending. We worked about 11 hours in addition to my work yesterday. When it came to be paid the husband of the lady with whom I had been dealing suddenly decided that the price was too high and more or less confronted us.  The wife was embarrassed and gave me a cheque. I do try to avoid any sort of difficulty. This is how I do it.  I receive my brief on the job and within 48 hours give a quote. I charge ‘piece rate’ not an ‘hourly rate’.  The reason is that I work at manic speed and do not stop for say 5-6 hours and do far more than most people would do in one hour.

In this case my estimate was the same as the customer’s so I wrote an E-mail and got a conformation by e-mail so the contract was signed sealed and delivered as they say. When I am near finishing the work I take the customer on a walk around to show them what I have done and get their approval.  If they are not satisfied I make good.   When I have finished I ask once more the customer is happy and then I take the money. Fool proof enough you may say – alas, far from it.

The husband thought I should have charged by the hour and said for what I was charging I should have been in the garden for five days. From his tone of voice I realised that he had made up his mind so conversation was a waste of time. Am I glad to work for less than the minimum wage as a self employed person? I don’t think so. Many traditional local men still go back to thinking that £10 per hour for gardening is a good rate.  As an overall observation, many people in this area do not want to pay anything for such a service and even resent being asked.   It’s in the culture, dudes.

Part of our customer’s restored and cleaned garden in the country with such a lovely view to boot

The worst scourge is when I do work for a pensioner (most of my customers) and then afterwards their son / daughter / friend comes along afterwards and ‘thinks’ I have charged too much and that’s without them knowing anything about gardening, or being there when we did the work. One or two senior people have turned against us as a direct effect of over-protective family members.  This is  in spite of our doing the job – and doing more than we were asked to do, to price and to time AND they thanking us afterwards and handing over money without argument.

I must make an attempt to put contracts in writing  but even then the problem of local meanness and ‘experts’ would not be solved.  Ah well we do enjoy the work and so many people appreciate our efforts. We shall continue. I did not have this problem in London. We can’t have everything and there are compromises or should I say adaptions to be made wherever you live.


Natural News is an excellent source of accurate information about the goings on of ‘Big Pharma’ particularly in the country where they reign most of all, the US of A.  I read the headline ” Pharma drug cartel just changed the definition of “high blood pressure” to trick HALF of U.S. adults into “treatment” with high-profit prescription drugs

The idea is to hoax the public (already hoaxed enough) and to generate yet more profit from these gullible people by announcing a new definition of “high blood pressure”. This is done by lowering the acceptable level of cholesterol in the body, rendering tens of millions of Americans quanlifiable for statins. The overall plan is to convince otherwise normal people that they are sick by moving the goal posts. Read more here but have the vomit bag at hand.


On to the Mendip Gardening Club for their meeting on bees. It is held in the village hall of the strangely named Ston Easton which is not a stutter but a real place which existed before the Norman Conquest. The few houses that remain exude history and character. That does not include the modern Village Hall built in the 1980’s. Perhaps one day someone will repair the rutted driveway that leads from the road. It is a functional enough place which has a bowling alley but no bar (wonder why).

Neil Lovesay fell in love with bees when he saw a swarm coming towards him and attaching themselves to a door of his house. This happened about nine years ago. This lecture 2The Bee-Friendly Garden” was remarkable in my mind for presenting more unknown myth busting facts at one time than I have heard for many a long day.

the speaker holding the attention of the audience.

Here are a few facts about this amazingly intelligent creature and their environment. The most destructive enemies to bees and wild life in general are badgers. There are 270 types of bee. 75% of the food we eat is only possible because of the pollination performed by bees.  The best way of stopping bees who desire water from drowning in your pond is to drop a sponge on to it. The bees can suck the water in the sponge in safety.  You ‘type’ the bee by the colour its its head, ditto its body, and the number of stripes on its tail.

Bee-friendly flowers

Swarming bees do not sting because to swarm they need great amounts of energy which they can only  get through over-eating honey. You can safely scoop them up in yours hands without fear. When a bee strings you, it dies. If a bee-like insect stings you – say – six times, it is a wasp. Flies have eyes that can scan all around in 3D mode. This is because there are the bottom of the food chain and need to be on the alert. Bees have eyes that face forward but certain species can have up to five eyes.

The lecturer works for Picket Lane Nursery, Dorset  BT8 3HU where up to 1,000 varieties of hardy perennials and flowering shrubs are grown. Check opening times before traveling.


So with a slightly aching body even after an Epsom Salt bath, to bed with a hot water bottle.

I am too tired to write more so will return tomorrow and complete.


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