The Open Garden
George sat in the deckchair
at his garden gate. He was about to count the
money in his collecting tin when a male voice
Excuse me, is this
one of the Open Gardens?
George, glancing up at a middle-aged couple.
Only youre not
on the map of Open Gardens they gave us in the
agreed. I was a late entry, and there
wasnt time to add me to any of the
paperwork. Its just a pound each to look
round, he continued, lifting his tin.
His visitors contributed
their admission fees, and George directed them to
the rear of his bungalow.
He looked up and down the
lane and saw no sign of other visitors. It was
late in the afternoon and it was likely these
would be the last. George painfully rose and
limped to join his guests.
different from other gardens weve seen
today, ventured his male visitor as George
reached the couple.
There arent any
plants, noted the woman.
The old arthritis
stops me from doing too much gardening, these
days, George explained, so I went for
a simple, low maintenance theme of just grass and
You mean weeds?
A weed is just a name
for a plant growing in the wrong place,
replied George. My SPIS all carefully
harmonise to construct a natural, uncultivated
And the grass is
three feet tall, observed the man.
I like to think that
it forms a counterpoint juxtaposed to the
manicured greenery, characteristic of the other
The three looked out across
the rusting mattress springs and other discarded
household equipment, to the fire-gutted shell of
an old motor car, beyond.
pleased with that modern art installation,
announced George with pride. I may enter it
for the Turner Prize.
Before the couple could
comment, the grass on the far side of the garden
began to ripple, tracking the path of some hidden,
approaching creature. The sound of growls and
snarls reached their ears.
Ah, thats Rufus,
my Rottweiler, said George. I
dont know whats got into him today.
Hes bitten four of the visitors, and one
had to be taken away by ambulance.
George looked round to see
his guests fleeing, panic-stricken, from the
tea and cakes in the Village Hall, George
helpfully shouted after them, before his voice
was drowned-out by the savage barking of Rufus.
George sat down in his
deckchair, and Rufus, having seen-off the
intruders, laid quietly down on the ground beside
Lets count the
days takings, boy, George said to his
companion. I reckon weve got over
sixty quid here. Thatll pay for getting all
that rubbish taken away from the back garden.
He patted Rufus on the head. With any luck
therell be enough money left to have the
grass cut and to get you a nice bone.