I took a photo of my neighbour’s cock

in my lady garden

The man along the road was quite cross the other day when I asked if I could take a photo of his cock. He looked at me as though I was some kind of pervert. He has a magnificent specimen. I can see it when it hangs out at the end of the garden if I peep through the fence.

Anyway, I needed a photo as reference for a painting I was doing called The Joy of Cocks. You see, as well as being an expert gardening writer, I’m also a dab hand with the watercolours.

So I took the photo of the cock anyway.



Then I selected my colours. Those of you who paint may like to know the palette I selected: Alizarin crimson, ochre, indigo, Winsor Blue and Phthalo Green. It took me several hours, painting on Bockingford 140lb NOT paper (you see what a know all I am). But it was well worth the effort as you can see from the resulting piece of fine art.

Six toed cockerelJust look at the fine brush strokes on my cock

Keeping chickens has become quite a trend to enhance the garden, with people buying little houses for them, painted in Farrow and Ball heritage colours like their famed Mouseback, Mouldy Cheese Green, His Lordship’s Snot and Hint of Diarrhoea.

I’m sure it makes a great difference to the cockerels and hens that they have the status of a page from Country Living magazine rather than a common-or-garden nailed up shed thing from the pages of a 1950s Daily Eggspress.

No wonder they strut around so arrogantly.

My niece keeps chickens and she often gives me the spare eggs for a nice Saturday morning Weight Watchers fry-up.

Have you noticed how these people write the date the eggs were popped out on the shell with felt pen? They look like little shite-and-feather covered lottery balls with bits of straw stuck on.

dirty eggA dirty egg

There are some supermarkets that sell similar eggs, too. Do they have a production line of people smearing poo and sprinkling on tiny feathers? Then put up the price for rustic appeal?

If you keep chickens, the poo, or poultry manure as posh garden writers call it, adds nitrogen to your compost heap. But there are risks of harmful bacteria, so you might be safer to perk up your blackcurrant bushes, plum trees and roses with chicken poo pellets, as I do.

Anyway that’s enough shite for one week. Back to the autumn garden.

This week I harvested my candy pink and white-striped heritage beetroots. I was disappointed when I cut into them to see they didn’t have Southend-on-Sea printed through them. Did you know that in Devon there is a Beetroot Appreciation Society? And I thought I needed to get a life!

BeetrootMy pretty candy beetroot

This is the time to divide your perennials, giving some to me. I’ve split my marjoram (painful!) and spread it elsewhere and cut down my dead crocosmia.

Don’t forget if you are having a bonfire, to shoo any wildlife away before you light the blue touch-paper. And be careful you don’t set fire to your plants. The last thing you want is a burning bush.

Jobs to do this week

* Fill in the peephole in the fence to prevent perverts taking photos.

* Get your flu jab.

* Cover any tender plants with horticultural fleece or just use one from your wardrobe

fleeceLove me tender plants with a fleece

Your problems answered

* Della from Ipswich: Yes you still have time to make sloe gin, and my recipe is in a previous column which can be found in the Suffolk Gazette archives. No, you and your husband don’t have to sample it every morning for quality control, especially as he works as an air traffic controller at Stansted.

* Jenny from Finborough: Yes I think a trip round the Adnams brewery would make an admirable 70th birthday gift for your husband. You can even make your own gin there using botanicals and you could send me a bottle for Christmas.

* Bill from Lavenham: Thank you for sending me a photo of your two whopping pumpkins (pantomimus Cinderellus). For a moment there I thought I had tuned into Pornhub.

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