Monday, May 26, 2008


There are those in my village who worry about their gardens being U or non-U. This, in spite of the war with Iraq, rumors of war with Iran, the high cost of fuel and and food. I share none of my fellow villagers concerns about a Nancy Mitford's notion of how the British upper class ought to behave. We are no longer a British colony. Ours is a different society ; we are very reluctant to tug at our forelocks at the sight of some bloke whose ancestors were better plunderers than ours.

There are those who say that it takes six hundred years to make an English lawn and an English gentleman. Well and good. I do not admire gentlemen such as the little prince who dressed up in Nazi garb for a lark, nor do I think that conquering the Falklands is all that and a side of fries. So, fie on class ridden societies, fie on the British gentlemen who say that Americans not being able to have real gardens since real gardens have "bones."

My garden has no bones--no ancient box hedges to be tended by the underclass. It has a modest evergreen hedge to serve as a windbreak and as a place for birds to rest on windy winter days, not to comply with the British notion of U bones. I live in a non-U house in a non-U neighborhood. I plant flowers, vegetables and fruit regardless of whether Nancy Mitford would approve of them or not. I suspect that rhubarb and strawberries are non-U. Of the latter, I have grown both the grossly overrated fraises des bois--think little blobs of cotton soaked in red tinted sugar water--and the good old standbys of American kitchen gardens--Ogalala, Ozark and Tribute. The latter grow rampant and produce fragrant berries whose perfectly balance of sweetness and tartness is a delight to the palate. The rhubarb makes delicious pies with a populist appeal. I like it all the better because I know in my non-U bones that Nancy Mitford would not like it.

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