Documents: Latest From: Patrick Vickery:

The Ultimate in Recycling
by Patrick Vickery
by Patrick Vickery


Patrick Vickery lives in the Scottish Highlands and runs a small hardy perennial nursery (part-time). Patrick is also a part-time garden writer, and part-time special needs teacher.

Married to Liz, they have three children, two goats, two dogs, an assortment of small animals, and lives in a two acre wood in a wonderful part of the world.

Patrick gardens using a raised bed system and all, of course, chemically free - a chemical free zone!
Visit his blog
His first book was published in January 2002 by Capall Bann Publishers, UK:-
"In Pursuit Of Perennial Profit - The Pot Of Gold At The Bottom Of The Garden" (ISBN: 186163 1480)

Also visit his website at

May 23, 2010

Recently the polytunnel collapsed under the weight of the snow, the washing machine caught fire, the brakes on the car failed and a cupboard mysteriously detached itself from the kitchen wall with shattering effect. We've replaced or repaired all of them except for the kitchen cupboard, so we headed to Inverness to buy a new one from the kitchen cupboard place. Now there's a burger van in the car park that dispenses coffee. Most convenient.

Leaning casually against the side of the van drinking my coffee and looking for all the world like a man who knows how to put up complicated kitchen units, the van moved, just a foot or so, but enough to elicit a response from the Jean-Christophe Novelli character sizzling burgers on a hot griddle.

"Did the van move?" he asked, unfazed by such a happening as he sizzled and griddled in anticipation of the expected rush of DIY enthusiasts, which led me to surmise that perhaps he had left the brakes off on purpose.

"Ball bearings," I shrilled. But of course it had nothing to do with ball bearings at all. It was the brakes. I was spouting gibberish.

I blame Horace. I had spotted a boiler suit character out of the corner of my eye carrying a ‘4 by 2' and a 12 millimetre plank of ply and thought instantly of Horace who was a ‘4 by 2' and a 12 millimetre plank of ply man himself. Whenever I mentioned mechanical problems with my garden machinery he always inferred that ball bearings had something to do with it. "Ball bearings!" was his usual retort. So that's where my outburst of gibberish had come from.

I knew Horace well. I did his garden weekly. He was a retired engineer in his eighties with a passion for recycling and ahead of his time when it came to all things carbon footprint and carbon capture. His garden hosted an impressive array of compost bins of various shapes, sizes and guises and his garage housed one of the biggest and most lethal homemade shredding machines I have ever come across.

He died last year and was cremated (shame that, for otherwise he might have had "Ball Bearings!" engraved upon his headstone) and his ashes scattered beneath the trees in the local churchyard.

I called on his wife some days later to express my sympathies and have a jovial banter over a cup of tea about her late husband's idiosyncratic gardening ways.

She informed me that it had been unusually windy during the ash scattering Service resulting in particles of Horace being unceremoniously blown down the street towards the butchers and the newsagents. If I was going that way could I keep an eye open for misplaced ash and re-scatter accordingly? Well, of course, delighted to be of service.

I did find some actually. But was it Horace ash? I don't know. I collected it anyway in an empty yoghurt pot (a strawberry crunch corner consumed earlier in the day) and returned to the churchyard to re-scatter. But unfortunately an unwashed yoghurt pot is not the best receptacle for ash and a few particles stuck stubbornly to the side. I could hardly wash it out in the public toilets, now could I? No, that would be disrespectful.

So I returned home and assigned the yoghurt pot to the blue recycling bin. He would have approved. The following day as I sat in the kitchen eating a yoghurt (a pineapple probiotic delight with added bifidus) I caught sight through the window of the recycle bin being collected. I nodded respectfully and muttered "Ball bearings."

Recycled plastics tend to be used for a variety of things of course: bin liners, carrier bags, sewage pipes, office accessories, water butts . . . the list goes on and on. I don't think he would like to be an office accessory but a sewage pipe or a water butt would do just fine.

And where did all this occur, you may wonder? Well, I'm not saying, just in case there's a local by-law prohibiting ash collection in empty yoghurt pots. You never know!

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row