July in the garden: it’s the back end of Wimbledon month, kids off-school time and the burnt-out beginnings of smoky barbecues are upon us.
This is the time when well-organised, green-fingered people check their clematis for clematis wilt (sounds nasty), harvest apricots, peaches and nectarines, treat apple scab (sounds almost as bad as the wilting thing), pick courgettes before they become marrows, deadhead bedding plants, clear algae, blanket weeds and debris from their ponds, then settle down to order catalogues for next year’s spring-flowering bulbs and tubas (or do I mean tubers)?
I don’t know. I’m a rubbish gardener, but the plant that’s captured my imagination this flowering season is the vogueish No-Magic-Money Tree, cutting its impactful dash on many a national lawn.
But where did it come from, this No-Magic-Money Tree? What does it like and where can we find it? For all we’ve heard of the No-Magic-Money Tree lately, remarkably little is yet known about this woody perennial. I thought the subject ripe for investigation and set off to gather information on this elusive seedling.
It seems the No-Magic-Money Tree prefers a shady environment, and thrives in an austere climate. To get off to a good start, it needs to be thoroughly bedded in with piles of steaming manure and, unlike plants which need regular night-watering, this little cracker will even endure when the piss has been extensively taken out of it.
On the downside, this much-mentioned tree has a tendency to become a bit invasive will need regular examination to stop its roots taking hold, although the optimism of a bright July sunshine, heralding a long hot summer, may well be all that’s needed to halt its advance.
The decline of the No-Magic-Money Tree can normally be timed with the immediate post-election period, when everything in the garden is – to use a technical term – ‘going to pot a bit’. Before its glory fades it produces an especially bitter fruit, which is particularly savoured by a very select few, with rather bad taste and no sense of smell.
In full flower, shortly before it fruits – which it does prodigiously, most recently seen showering ugly money on Northern Irish right-wingers – the Tree emits a powerful and overwhelmingly unpleasant stench. The odour is reminiscent of things that have gone bad, very bad indeed and it is strong enough to turn stomachs. It is thought that the horrible fragrance has an evolutionary purpose, so that those birds of a feather who flock together to strip the tree bare of its fruit – leaving none for the rest of us – can be spotted, identified, and never, ever voted for again.
So, our lesson for July: the fruits of our labour are what make this country bountiful and productive. The July gardener’s job is to forget about the courgettes that might be marrows, the peaches, the nectarines and the pond with the weed, and work instead on saving our awesome public services.
Next Month in Gardeners’ Corner: Beasts, Mini-Beasts and Pests, how to keep them under control without resorting to violence.
In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about The No-Magic-Money Tree and how it grows, have a look at this short film by Positive Money.
Photo of Southsea street art, Sarah Cheverton.