GARDENING / Gardeners' question time: Horticulture is rich in history, lore and symbolism, from the Garden of Eden onwards. Michael Leapman digs up some brain-teasers in a seasonal quiz for the green-fingered

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THE POINT of this quiz is to rouse you from the sterile idleness of the season, manure you with industry and make you think. As an occasional gardener you may know what to do with your trowel, but do you know why you are doing it, who

has done it before or, especially, what imaginative flights have been inspired in writers and artists by the craft of making things grow?

Score one mark for each correct answer (remembering that each question in the last section requires two answers). The maximum number of points you can score is 60. If you score below 30 you may need to spend less time actually gardening, more lying in a hammock reading about it. If you score above 50, watch out - I've met your know-all type before.

Full marks? You must have looked up the answers first. The rest of you will find them on page 68.


Horticultural images are often used in proverbs, phrases or sayings. Identify them from the following definitions:

1 Root vegetables will not gain a coating of a dairy product simply through the use of pretentious language.

2 I decline to donate the pulpy fruit of the ficus.

3 It's no use thinking you can collect bryophitic plants by using rounded mineral matter, even in motion.

4 Long, green and phallic - but slow to warm up.

5 A container of globose fruit is a metaphor for existence.

6 A quintet is composed of an uncertain quantity of legumes.

7 Sweet fruits of the vine? Just the opposite.

8 Two adjacent seeds from a single parent show a family resemblance.

9 Being acquainted with things that taste fierce and are dome-shaped.


Some of the best plants have been developed by breeding from disparate parents. I have used the same technique on garden designers and pundits. Whom do you get if you cross the following:

1 A conqueror with the Garden of England?

2 A knight of the round table with a Labour economic spokesman (adding parenthetical competence)?

3 Hamlet's mother with an unstable Victorian doctor?

4 A Latin life, a dismissal, a French town and a compass bearing?

5 A transatlantic lavatory, professions and humbug?

6 A Duke of Northumberland with one who hurls a discus?


Below are some important dates in gardening history. With the help of the cryptic clues, say what happened then:

1 600 BC (approximately): The suspense is incredible.

2 1673: What the doctor ordered, in a metropolitan riverside village that remains a gardening Mecca.

3 1735: When it came to naming names he had a word - or two or three - for it, often very long ones.

4 1759: Sounds as if you have to wait in line to get in here.

5 1804: Renowned today for its Really Heart-stopping Shows.

6 1840: Transparently, the garden world heats up.

7 1903: Rus in urbe.

8 1908: Now everyone is entitled to their due share.


Below are some folk remedies for common garden pests. Identify the victims targeted:

1 Drown them in beer.

2 Spray them with soapy water.

3 Sprinkle pepper all over.

4 Suffocate with burning rags or stale kippers.

5 Dress plants in 'collars' of carpet underlay.

6 Plant French marigolds nearby.

7 Reason with them.


The potato is the least glamorous item in garden or kitchen; yet it is full of mystery, as you will discover when you tuck into these subtly flavoured multiple-choice questions.

1 Which Shakespearean character said 'Let the sky rain potatoes'?

a Hamlet

b Caliban

c Falstaff

d Henry V

e Malvolio

2 Only one of these is a potato. Which one?

a Pink fir apple

b Gardener's Delight

c Russet

d Pentland Firth

e Victoria

3 What are Potato Eaters?

a Bright orange grubs

b Small birds related to house martins

c A drawing by Van Gogh

d A novel by Maeve Binchy

e A new chain of fast food outlets

4 Who or what was Potato Jones?

a An Anglesey dish combining potatoes and leeks

b Leader of the Bristol food riots in 1805

c First radio gardening expert in 1927

d Sea captain who tried to run the 1937 blockade of Spain

e American outlaw (briefly allied with Butch Cassidy), noted for huge appetite

5 What is a potato-bogle?

a An Australian potato rustler

b A scarecrow with a head made of a potato

c A bright orange grub

d An instrument for extracting eyes from potatoes

e A junior dealer in the potato futures market

6 What is a sweet potato?

a A sweet

b A potato

c A climbing plant with purple flowers

d Slang (vide Damon Runyon) for a 1920s New York chorus girl

e A baseball term for a fast, breaking ball


None of the following are what they seem. What are they?:

1 Love apple

2 Desert Orchid

3 Daisy roots

4 The Jersey Lily

5 The flower of kings

6 Fruit of the Loom

7 Gospel Oak

8 The green shoots of recovery

If you have found this quiz too easy so far, test your literary knowledge with our final and most diabolical section.


Gardens, flowers, fruit and vegetables provide popular images for writers. From these cryptic crossword-style clues, identify the quotation. Give yourself one mark for the exact (or nearly exact) words and another for the author.

1 I'm sore and mixed-up four times over.

2 The greens are lumped in with royalty and much else as conversation starters.

3 Not deem dramatic enough? Unwind and invite the lady to see the flowers.

4 A century of blooms gets things going out east.

5 Even if it does rhyme, it won't be as fine as this towering perennial.

6 Love it] Mix and then conceal - or almost. As good as a single sparkler.

7 Frail Terry's fevered brows - they knit into endless acres of soft fruit.

8 Many believe that the flower would be even more splendid if made a richer colour - but it's a common mistake.-

(Photograph omitted)



1 Fine words butter no parsnips. 2 I don't give a fig. 3 A rolling stone gathers no moss. 4 Cool as a cucumber. 5 Life is just a bowl of cherries. 6 How many beans make five? 7 Sour grapes. 8 Like as two peas in a pod. 9 Knowing your onions.


1 William Kent. 2 Lancelot (Capability) Brown. 3 Gertrude Jekyll. 4 Vita Sackville- West. 5 John Tradescant. 6 Percy Thrower.


1 Creation of Hanging Gardens of Babylon. 2 Chelsea Physic Garden founded. 3 Linnaeus publishes his plant-naming system. 4 First Kew Gardens created by Augusta, Princess of Wales. 5 Royal Horticultural Society formed. 6 Joseph Paxton completes first modern glasshouse at Chatsworth. 7 Letchworth becomes England's first garden city. 8 Act of Parliament introduces allotments to Britain.


1 Snails and slugs. 2 Aphids. 3 Cats. 4 Moles. 5 Cabbage root fly. 6 Whitefly. 7 Neighbours and / or children.


1 c. 2 a. 3 c. 4 d. 5 b. 6 c.


1 Old name for a tomato. 2 A racehorse. 3 Boots (rhyming slang). 4 The Edwardian actress Lillie Langtry. 5 King Arthur (so called by 13th-century Bishop of Winchester). 6 An American brand of underwear. 7 A district of north London. 8 Continuing recession.


1 Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose - Gertrude Stein. 2 'The time has come,' the Walrus said, / 'To talk of many things: / Of shoes - and ships - and sealing wax - / Of cabbages - and kings' - Lewis Carroll. 3 Come into the garden, Maud - Tennyson. 4 Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy - Mao Tse-tung. 5 I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree - Joyce Kilmer 6 A violet by a mossy stone / Half hidden from the eye] / Fair as a star, when only one / Is shining in the sky - Wordsworth. 7 Strawberry fields forever - John Lennon. 8 To gild refined gold, to paint the lily/ . . . Is wasteful and ridiculous excess - Shakespeare, King John.