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August 27th 2009

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    I once heard Rhododendron described as 'funereal' by the owners of a garden I worked in.  The statement rang a discordant note in the part that sometimes thinks.

   The land itself was picked so thoroughly clean and appearance was of such high order that only occasionally did I see a flying creature.  Everything was gone because roses require unnatural attention if they are to be perfect all the time.

    On a Saturday morning I met with the owners of these roses between breakfast and lunch.  She had on the summer hat.  And he was wearing white trousers.  Together they were king and queen of all that they could see and large portions of the city sixty miles away.  And as well, they were subjects of those ailments to which kings and queens are prone.

    

    

    In those days I drank a great deal and in answer to their question I suddenly suggested they might be so much happier with someone else.  An easy enough objective, I thought.

    Three weeks later, the phone call came.  Not from my king and queen but from the unfortunate who had succeeded me as garden jester.  How, he asked, had I managed the roses.  I was happy to tell him and he thanked me profusely for giving him the routine.

    I should perhaps have added that his new queen was badly allergic to chemistry, so always wise before the weekend visit to set the sprinklers and wash away any scent of pesticide.

    Now, when I see Rhododendron I am reminded that kings and queens just are, but jesters must have a reason to be devious.  And I suppose in my mind this has continued to make Rhododendron funereal.

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tim candler

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