Behind the ragged privet hedge, crowded into a border long years neglected, a meeting is called. All have attended, all but the Oxford Ragworts. But they are squatters and not expected.
Daniel Dahlia ‘Ho-lai’s’ to bring the meeting to order. Though his family have been five hundred years in the country, in his blood-red garb he still displays a Mexican flamboyance. He waits for the whispers to stop and the heads to turn . Then he nods: Meeting’s begun.
“Look about us, brothers—Si, Si, and sisters. Are you ready yet to take action yet? Or are you all spring-bedded pansies?”
“Oi! Who’s you calling a pansy?” the oldest of them, Henry Horseradish, snarled back at him.
“I will call none of you that,” Daniel Dahlia baited “—if you stubborn, deep-rooted gringos will up those roots and move.”
Tommy Tomato sniffed. “Thing is, not everyone’s so keen to leave their friends.”
“What friends?” wispy, willowy Bella Bellflower clipped. “You have no friends. You can’t even trace your lineage. And look at your house—given over to those Ragwort squatters. Call themselves Oxford. Have you heard the way they drop their ‘haitches’? Brash Cockneys.”
“Bella, shut it,” Daniel Dahlia blasted. “We’re not here to talk about lineage.”
“Aye, and ain’t that as well,” Henry Horseradish sniped. “Cos you’s all a load of immigrant bastards. I am the only native here.”
“Well I for one am ready to go,” said Rosa. “Just look at my label, look at it. Rambling, it says, rambling. And here I am, pinned to a trellis that hides the bins. The ignominy of it.” She hung her head and shed a fragrant scented petal.
“Do stop your blubbing,” said Tina Tea-Rose. “You’re far from the only one neglected. I mean, when did I last have a prune?”
“Hey, Tina-Babes,” cut in Robby Rhubarb, coarsely. “If it’s movement you want, I’m your man.”
“I’m not sure I could survive in the wilds,” Lily whined. “I need purity around me.”
“And where’s the purity here?” asked Henry Horseradish. “You’s seen these crisp packets blown over the fence?”
“Don’t take on so, Lily,” soothed Berty Begonia They were old friends, having arrived in the garden together. “I’ll hold your hand. Only, I’m not staying here one dark night longer. I tell you, my corms . . . ”
“Your corms?” Daniel Dahlia scoffed. “Your corms are nothing next to my tubers. All squashed together. I need lifting and separating.”
“Hey, Danny-Boy,” chortled Mary Marrow, “you need my Cross-Your-Heart bra.” Though it now was tattered, it being some years since she was issued a new one.
“’Nuff of you’s bantering,” called Henry Horseradish. “Time’s for a show of s’lid’ity. Who’s for getting out of here?”
“Si!” shouted Daniel, keenly. “Or ought that to be ‘Eye’?”
Tommy Tomato sniffed. “I’ll go if you’re all going.”
“I rather would stay, but I won’t be alone with those Ragworts,” Bella Bellflower piped. “Uncouth things. Infested with caterpillars. Creeps my flesh.”
“I’ve already said it,” said Rosa. “I’m ready to ramble anywhere.”
“Count me in,” said Tina Tea-Rose. “Tea for One is such a sad song.”
“Now you’s talking,” Henry Horseradish jested. “Can’t beat a good bit of Led.”
“I am the leader,” Daniel Dahlia bellowed, not understanding Henry’s allusion.
“I confess, I still am not sure,” Lily said. “Ought we not to wake the Narcissi? They ought to be invited to come along with us.”
“Self-lovers,” Henry Horseradish dismissed them.
“You misunderstand,” Lily rushed to defend them. “Like birds of a feather, they like their own company.”
“Clouds,” said Tommy Tomato, but nobody heard him.
“Look, Lily-Love, you come with me,” Robby Rhubarb coaxed her. “I’ll keep you moving.”
“I have already offered to be her companion,” Berty Begonia said. “We are the oldest of friends.”
“Old? Well you’re right about that,” Robby Rhubarb said. “But are you sure you can make it? I thought you had trouble with corms.”
“If anyone tires, you can ride upon me,” Mary Marrow suggestively offered.
Henry Horseradish laughed, “Oh, what a whopper.” And, “Oh, la-la!” For he remembered when she was a slender courgette.
“If you’ll stop your bantering . . .” Daniel Dahlia tried to bring the meeting to order. “Can I take it we’re all together in this?”
“Aye’s, that’s right, Danny-Boy,” Henry Horseradish said. “We’re all for one and one for all, though we’re not the Three Musketeers. Not the Three Amigos, neither, cos only you’s a Mexican bastard. No, I’ll tell yous what we are, we’re the Great Garden Escapees.”
Inspired by a Wild Flower Handbook (Appendix: Garden Escapees)