Earlier this year, a close friend and founding collaborator of this magazine passed away. Graeme Livingston Wallace, also known as ‘El Gordo’ to our readers, was a talented and enthusiastic writer, beloved for his tongue-in–cheek take on society both in his native Great Britain and Switzerland, where he lived and worked in Vevey for many years. His colleagues at Nestlé will surely miss his efficiency and acumen as Communications Director for the Americas. He loved the written word and in his spare time penned three well known books: Pass the Garlic(1977), Keep Passing the Garlic (1982) and, closer to his professional leanings, God, the Unicorn and Advertising (2005), in which, combining wit and wisdom, he promulgated his advice about the best kept secrets in advertising, wrapped up in sparkling anecdotes. He died peacefully in Vevey Hospital earlier this year after a long illness borne with great courage. In his honour, we reproduce one of our favourite Backbites, which appeared in the February 2011 issue of Swiss Style. Farewell, old Friend…
I ’ve sent an advance invitation to Mr Silvio Berlusconi to join us at the Chelsea Flower Show later this year. Mr B. is a great admirer of robust fragrant seedlings about to come to the first bloom of youth and flower. Indeed, it was with him in mind that I designed the Toff’s Garden for this years show. The garden should provide much inspiration for those with a keen interest in vigorous yet slender young flowers surrounded by healthy, well trimmed bushes.
As one passes through the entrance, there will be a beguiling sign saying “Trespassers will be horse-whipped” inscribed in hot poker work on a sustainable tree trunk. This may set Mr B’s imagination running. Then a row of top hats will be used as hanging baskets, – alternative grey and black of course to maintain the ‘Toff’ style. Alongside that, patent leather thigh length Cavalrymen’s riding boots (Lobbs of St James’s) will make amusing plant containers and give inspiration for fantasy. There will be other Cavalry boots, – not patent leather but shiny latex, strategically placed around the garden with strawberry plants hanging out of them in another tribute to young fresh, soft fruit, ripening in the sun and almost ready to be picked and consumed.
At the far end of the garden, you will see six pairs of Lobb shoes which I hardly ever wore, with tomato seedlings and the small budding, fragrant cherry tomato – cerisa intacta pro tempus – to give this select and rare variety its proper horticultural name. The Lobb shoes are surrounded by a rockery constructed of elegant stones which have been in my family for generations.
All the bedding plants have been privately educated. They are therefore much hardier, having been through a regime of cold showers and lots of Latin and Greek. The male bedding plants are well versed in Aristotle and Oscar Wildes’ proclivities. The female plants equally so in Cervantes lesser known play ‘El Punto G’. On the left side of the garden you’ll notice that the conventional rectangle has been broken up laying down Aston Martin and Bentley tyre tracks, giving the impression of a careless chauffeur reversing his employees mistress hastily away across the lawn at the unexpected return of Madam. Mr. B should like this creative touch. One doesn’t actually have to own a Bentley or an Aston to achieve this. Most decent Garden Centres stock the Trackmasta®, a neat device for printing your choice of posh car tracks on any lawn.
Water features in gardens are so yesterday. Here you will find a Pimms feature, trickling over ice cubes into silver goblets. Arranged elegantly around this are comfortable garden benches ideal for indiscretions with a favourite niece or goddaughter or for negotiating the cost of buying a peerage. We have christened this ‘El Rincon Silvio’ after a cousin of my wife. Talking of which, slugs are always a problem.
The only way of dealing with them is to make them feel socially inferior and ill at ease. Stick a few copies of The Tatler around your most vulnerable seedlings and most slugs will slink away in shame. Any remaining will shrivel up with a sense of great inferiority.
The crowning glory at the centre of the garden is a magnificent display of a new cross breed of tulip Hughius Heffnerun ut Bruce Forsythium. Scientists at MIT have produced the DNA of this new breed which is displayed in a back light panel by the tulips. Apparently it is predominantly a curious mix of corset, wig and dentures. We look forward to welcoming you all to my Toff’s Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show.