Unusually Clever People

The Spy Who Loved Bees

Sir Peter Smithers, spy-turned-politician-turned-gardener, died earlier this month at the age of 92.  He once said:

"This is Playboy in flowers," he said. "What are flowers but sex in action? The bee performs the wedding. I take the pictures on the wedding day. Two days later, the flowers are exhausted."

Smithers, too, had a manifesto, which he employed in the construction of his garden in Switzerland.  His Principles for the Garden included:

It shall be a source of pleasure to the owners and their friends, not a burden and an anxiety.

All plants must therefore be of a permanent character:  no annuals, biennials, or plants requiring lifting in winter or attention of a special kind

The planting must be of a dense kind so that the plants live intimately together with little space for weeds to grow or need for artificial support.  The plants themselves must do most of the garden work (in nature they do it all!)

Difficult plants, if not successful after a fair trial, would be discarded.

He also noted that "some of the plants have not yet read the instructions."

Another famous quote: "I consider every plant healthy until I’ve killed it myself."

Obit: Peter Smithers Dies at 92; Spy With a Green Thumb – New York Times.

Posted by on June 26, 2006 at 9:56 am, in the category Unusually Clever People.
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One response to “The Spy Who Loved Bees”

  1. firefly says:

    “All plants must therefore be of a permanent character: no annuals, biennials, or plants requiring lifting in winter or attention of a special kind”

    Yeah, but change is nice too. I can see that if you’re 92 you wouldn’t want to be spading up 72 square feet of annual beds every year, but there are so many plants and bulbs I haven’t tried yet, and I wouldn’t want to lock myself in to permanent things only at this stage.

    On the other hand, I have to admit that he is right — trying to maintain the usual routine of summer bulbs in pots plus planting a new garden was a killer. I’m glad it’s over with.

    Now all I have to do is weed … *sigh*