The Third Leader: The home front

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The Independent Online

You might think the Government would have had enough of wars - global, literal, metaphorical or internal. But no: now, to add to the war on terror, we have the war on weather.

And if you are a gardener, it is my duty to inform you that, in this war, you are also on the "front line", so stop leaning on that fork, straighten that trug, and look lively, you 'orrible little 'orticulturalist! Who do you think you are? Monty Don?

Yes, once again, a nation of Mainwarings and Minivers finds itself facing the enemy, fired by an exhortation at Kew yesterday from Brigadier Pearson, General Blair's climate change minister, full of stirring references to "the chilling requirement for bud break" and "the severity of pest and disease attacks". All together: don't panic!

No, all it requires is a little strategic thought, adjustment and, of course, sacrifice. And I'm afraid the climate fodder is going to be the poor bloody lawn, shortly to be mown down for the last time, stripes lost for ever.

Frankly, I won't weep that much, as it was always a patchy performer compared to a four square piece of decking.

Time, too, for some famous island flair for the unorthodox. A garden like a beach would have clear resonances, obviously; an Anderson Shelter would concentrate minds and take up a lot of space, while its corrugations would prove most useful for water collection.

Probably, though, I can do no better than point you towards St Columb, Cornwall, where, I read, Mr Barry Wallond's front garden features air raid sirens, gas masks, and a Spitfire. Phlox away!

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