Monday, 10 February 2014

Eclecticism in action

A rare blue sky moment last Friday saw me grabbing my fleece, donning my wellies and venturing out to clear, weed and sow sweet peas in the greenhouse.  It was also one of those rare occasions when a morning outside coincided with a fully charged iPod and newly uploaded tunes on a playlist.  (The words 'playlist' and 'newly uploaded' whilst tripping so lightly off the fingers into that sentence are still recent immigrants into my mental world - and the achievement of either of them is still a rare and biennial event… mind you, I could say the same of 'fully charged iPod').

When I think of the soundtrack to my own childhood,  the lung-busting projections of Dave Betton, a local club singer leap to mind, as does the tuneful parping of the local colliery brass band.  Mixed into this aural landscape is a large helping of trad jazz and Ella Fitzgerald, intermingled with fairground organs and the insistently chirruping bird from the Cornwall Museum of Mechanical Music.  (I can still whistle that tune 40 years on.)  I feel I can safely challenge all comers to form the most bizarre top 40 of tunes from one's formative years.

But back in the garden, with earphones in place, I found that to music, even digging out ground elder could be fun.  Rythmic attacks to the beat of Abba's 'Mamma Mia' were followed by aggressive uprooting accompanied by Motorhead's Lemmy repeatedly rasping "No Class", loudly in my ear.  Methinks I even sang along in parts, much to the alarm of the neighbour who had, I spotted rather too late, ventured outdoors on an ill-timed errand.

Ah well.  Better to just let the muse take you on such occasions.  And so she did, with the Stranglers, Frank Sinatra, the Skids and Sister Sledge, all tumbling after each other (and out of my mouth) in best iPod shuffle fashion. I'm sure, on reflection, that my own children must find my playlists totally weird, yet find myself equally delighted with eclecticism as a thing to be cherished.

It's true also in gardening. Why limit yourself to a restricted palette? You can, after all, get away with virtually any colour combination if you do it with enough panache - ask the late great Christopher Lloyd.  While you may not choose to mix a pink skirt with a yellow jumper, that doesn't mean you can't do it in the garden - there's enough green about to form a backdrop which somehow makes it work.

And it can be done in a bunch of flowers.  Reading my birthday book 'Vintage Flowers' by Vic Brotherson, I came across a page of cheery art deco jugs filled with pink and orange ranunculus, knobbly blue muscari and egg-yolk yellow narcissus.  And why not?  There's a time to cheer, as well as a time to tone. Long may it reign!  There are plenty of occasions when we have to be sensible after all.

So here's to eclecticism and that Cornish bird.  And to pink and yellow as a new combination….

Release your inner narcissus and let that orange trumpet blow!


  1. Lovely, this is just what I like. 'Vintage Flowers' of Vic Brotherson is a real gem, I got it as a present last year. I like the way of arranging things and colours together.

  2. We must fight against a tide of blanket tastefulness! To arms!

  3. Colour coordination ? Who needs it! Nothing like a lightening bolt of psychedelic orange in a sea of pastels to set those senses ringing!