FOR A fortnight now I have been living in a Harry Enfield sketch. Ever since confessing in this column to my frosted tomato disaster, friends have been ringing with helpful advice. "Yeouu didn't want to do that!" they cry. "You wanted to keep your gardener's delights inside for at least another month!" Well thanks, everyone. I think I've finally worked that one out.

I was beginning to feel downhearted about my emergent learning difficulties in the gardening department. But just as I was about to shuffle off into a corner of the vegetable patch wearing an imaginary dunce's hat, salvation arrived. My friend Mark came to stay for the weekend.

Now to the best of my knowledge Mark has never, until the past few months, had even so much as a passing tremor of horticultural interest. But now he has a house with a garden, and - bingo! - suddenly I am the fount of all knowledge, an oracle to be treated with extreme reverence. Well relative reverence, anyway.

All at once I notice that my bluebells and wallflowers have just sprung into life together, creating a fluttering impressionist pastiche of blue and yellow. (OK so that was my blue and white bed and the wallflowers were not as advertised at all. But once I'd cut the heads off the other white flowers, it looked just great.) Ah, the sweet smell of success!

Emboldened, I drag Mark off on an extended garden centre tour. I so rarely get a willing victim, you see.

Nursery number one is quite a success, and we fill up a cheerful trolley with delphiniums, hostas and auriculas. Of course this visit is for Mark's benefit, so we are both faintly surprised when my bill comes to more than his. Nursery number two goes by in a whirl, and by the time we embark on number three, Mark is beginning to look a little jaded. Funny, really, I thought he'd enjoy my favourite herb nursery...

When I get home, I realise that most of what I've bought is to replace plants I lost in last year's frost. I really am a slow learner.

Meanwhile the tomatoes are still in intensive care. Having raised them from seed, I feel a certain sense of duty towards them. But then Sarah rings up. And she doesn't give me any advice. "Do you want some replacements?" she asks. "I'm growing gardener's delights as well." I must admit, I'm beginning to waver.

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