During our early morning tour of the garden I asked after the hollyhock youths that were due be planted out. “Oh” said Mrs Bun “I’m not sure, I haven’t been in the greenhouse for ages”. The hollyhocks were doing just fine, and later were relocated to their new playground, which is more than can be said for the pelargoniums. They were in an advance stage of decay, being consumed by a severe case of grey mould, otherwise known as botrytis. The North Devon dank is the nemesis of these South African natives and best friend to fungus. Although destructive, the mould was strangely beautiful and, I thought, rather seasonal in appearance. As if the Snow Queen had visited and cast an icy spell. At every touch the “ice” threw up a puff of spores and I tried very hard not to breathe it in. I’m not sure there have been any confirmed report of Gardener’s Rot but I wasn’t going to risk it.
So whilst Mrs B took care of housely duties, I spent a happy hour picking over the potted plants, removing the furry, soft and blackened vegetation. It was strangely therapeutic. I sung a couple of Christmas carols to myself which I believe was much appreciated by Big Bertha the voluptuous chicken. Eventually clean bones were all that remained (of the pelargoniums not the chuck), but I have faith that they will make it through the winter to display their cerise beauty next summer. Mrs B has strict “check for mould regularly but barely water” instructions. She won’t let me down. I told you, I have faith.