The Third Leader: Potty ideas

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Enough! Dogged readers will know that The Third Leader is a model of moderation, a byword for benignity, a four-columned chancel of calm commentary. But when there is a threat to a shining example of our national virtues, our very island essence, you will not find us backward in coming forward. Which is why today we say: hands off our hanging baskets!

Enough! Dogged readers will know that The Third Leader is a model of moderation, a byword for benignity, a four-columned chancel of calm commentary. But when there is a threat to a shining example of our national virtues, our very island essence, you will not find us backward in coming forward. Which is why today we say: hands off our hanging baskets!

Yes, indeed: hard though it may be to credit, there are those - including a senior horticulturalist, she knows who she is - who are accusing the hanging basket of being "definitely a bit naff". A bit naff! Excuse me: naff is naff; the hanging basket is above fad and fashion and the views of, if I may say so, here-today and gone-tomorrow horticulturalists.

These are the kind of people now looking favourably on troughs and Italian pots and down on baskets. Troughs! Italian pots! In the stead of the suspended symphony of colour and gaiety that has blessed our gardens, brightened our towns and softened our cities for so long? Was it not Wilde himself who said: "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking up at the hanging baskets"?

Once, the remains of traitors hung above our streets; the hanging of flowers has signified our progress towards a more tolerant and civilised society. They proclaim a superliminal message of the lofty aspirations that characterise this country except when there's an election on. How could they be matched by the earthbound pot, trough and planter?

So, the next time you feel that trickle of water down the back of your neck because you hadn't noticed they'd just been watered: remember!

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