Anne Wareham: Where have all the critics gone? – I would like to see more great gardens.

Where have all the critics gone?
by Anne Wareham

I would like to see more great gardens. I think they would enrich our culture. You can express things through the use of land, water and plants that no other art form provides scope for, especially because time and weather are inevitable and dynamic partners in the process. This combination of natural forces and our work upon them has immense resonance for us, echoing our work in making a living on this planet in partnership with the land.

A great garden requires a site and a person willing and able to transform that site. In order to do that they have to have time, sensitivity, imagination, courage, taste, ruthlessness, a spatial sense and response to pattern, and an ability to learn, especially about their own limitations.


And it requires a culture which takes gardens more seriously than we do. For that we need better gardens. An end of praising Highgrove and other inadequate efforts by  the famous and fatuous. And for that we need garden critics and garden criticism. No art can thrive without the serious discussion and dialogue which criticism offers: it raises standards, informs, educates and promotes intelligent debate. It is the lifeblood of any high art, and our gardens are suffering for lack of it. I am not referring here to the garden where the kids play football or that which is devoted to a collection of special plants: I am referring to gardens which open to the public for money.


I think it is possible that the dual sense of the word criticism creates a problem. The dictionary clarifies the ambiguity –

“Criticism: 1.the act or an instance of making an unfavourable or severe judgement, comment etc. 2. The analysis or evaluation of a work of art, literature etc.


It is, of course, the second use of the word that concerns me here, but the definitions are not mutually exclusive. It is a fact that “an analysis or evaluation” may come couched in quite damning terms – but serious analysis is worth the bruises. I read an article by a novel writer recently, about his visit to a book market, a “salon litteraire,” in France. He found the punters very blunt in their comments about his work, but concluded – “Yes, the French revere their novelists, but they also believe they can tell them off if they are found wanting. Because they believe that what you do is important, they also reserve the right to dress you down.”


A bit of dressing down is maybe what we need to make our gardens sing again. Our gardens and our appreciation of them could blossom if we would begin to treat them as important, worthy of serious debate and discussion — not simply as occupational therapy for the retired middle classes.

However, there is currently no context for garden criticism. The model of theatre or book criticism would suggest that critics would visit gardens, and then write them up in our broadsheet newspapers and periodicals if they were worthy of that attention. But no-one writes such a column in this country and no writer has such freedom. Gardens are featured in magazines and newspapers – but never in the review section of a paper. If pop music can be reviewed in these sections, why not gardens?

Gardens usually appear in the press alongside “home” or “property”, and in glossy magazines which are dedicated to a glamorous presentation, for the benefit of potential advertisers as much as anybody. In both, the “how to” is muddled up with  the resulting gardens — both reduced to hobby.

Gardens get into these magazines and the press via photographs. Garden photographers trawl the country looking for new ‘material’, which they flatter by getting up ladders, crawling about on the ground,  getting up at the crack of dawn and Photoshopping. They then sell the results to an editor of a magazine or newspaper. The editor then decides whether the photographs fit the magazine: have the right “style”, fill an “autumn slot,” feature the right plants, create the right balance.

The editor is merely buying a set of photographs, not assessing a garden. She will probably never see the garden. If all this is acceptable, a writer will be dispatched to write a piece about the garden. Probably in the middle of winter despite the pictures featuring flowering roses. It is actually not unknown for the writer to write the piece without setting foot in the garden, but even if they do see it, their task is to justify the garden’s already accepted presence in the publication, not raise issues about it. Editors ask for the articles to be “personal, focusing on the owners and their history and how they came to make the garden. With plant associations.” This is altogether not a context in which we can review gardens or discuss them in depth. (I sometimes toy with the delinquent idea of inventing a totally fictitious garden and seeing if I could get it into a magazine or newspaper…..)

To get gardens worth taking seriously and then to understand why they are worth taking seriously we need a context for genuine garden criticism. We need editors with the courage to break the mould and put gardens alongside books, theatre and pop music in the review sections of our newspapers and magazines. We need to be able to separate garden appreciation from hints on slug control. We need to find a way to break out of the “gardener’s ghetto”, where gardens are only seen to be of interest to gardeners. And, perhaps, we need a certain delinquent small boy, prepared to declare that the Emperor in fact has no clothes.

badtemperedgardenerAnne Wareham has written a book which may be of interest to you: The Bad Tempered Gardener



Garden writing


It is a pleasure to publish this post.  I enjoy gardens, plants, trees and flowers, as many do – and it brightens the cold evenings and days of winter.

Rive Gauche: Coercive rainmaking works? – and other matters legal

I always enjoy Charles Pugsley Fincher cartoons. Wonderful satire.

But on a more serious note…

John Cooper QC sound file on Leveson’s Criminal Justice proposals with Carl Gardner.

Carl Gardner has produced a few podcasts recently: (1) John Cooper QC on the DPP’s consultation about assisting victims (13 minute audio clip)  (2) John Cooper QC on the word “grooming” and unduly lenient sentences (6 minute audio clip)

John Bolch at Family Lore: News from NFM: New government mediation report tells us little that’s new

And I just have to mention John Flood’s post on Hunter S. Thompson – “For anyone who could consume the amount of drugs he did and yet write as brilliantly as he could must be professional.” Read

workerspartytweetObiter J: A brief look at Michael v Chief Constable of South Wales Police and the IPCC Report

“On Wednesday 28th January, the Supreme Court handed down judgment in Michael and others v Chief Constable of South Wales Police and another [2015] UKSC 2 (Judgments).  The facts of the matter arose over 5 years ago in the early hours of 5th August 2009.  The Court of Appeal decided the case in 2012 – (Judgments).

This post looks at the basic facts, notes the Supreme Court’s judgment and looks at the very critical IPCC report published in 2010.  Some Additional Materials are at the end of the post…..”

Nigel Poole QC: The Medical Innovation Register

Googling Orgies – Thrashing out the Liability of Search Engines

January 30th, 2015 by Christopher Knight

Back in 2008, the late lamented News of the World published an article under the headline “F1 boss has sick Nazi orgy with 5 hookers”. It had obtained footage of an orgy involving Max Mosley and five ladies of dubious virtue, all of whom were undoubtedly (despite the News of the World having blocked out their faces) not Mrs Mosley. The breach of privacy proceedings before Eady J (Mosley v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2008] EWHC 687 (QB)) established that the ‘Nazi’ allegation was unfounded and unfair, that the footage was filmed by a camera secreted in “such clothing as [one of the prostitutes] was wearing” (at [5]), and also the more genteel fact that even S&M ‘prison-themed’ orgies stop for a tea break (at [4]), rather like a pleasant afternoon’s cricket, but with a rather different thwack of willow on leather.

UKSC | blog: Case Comment: Telchadder v Wickland Holdings Ltd [2014] UKSC 57

Open Justice: “Confused by sentencing? You be the Judge gives you an opportunity to sit in the judge’s chair, to help demystify sentencing decisions.

Visit You be the Judge and you can choose from four scenarios based on real-life cases, each video lasting about six minutes. You can choose from cases of criminal damage, burglary, threatening behaviour and robbery.

You will hear the facts of the case, weigh up the aggravating and mitigating factors, and consider the offender’s circumstances and the sentencing guidelines. As the judge, you get to choose the sentence and compare it to the actual sentence given. You’ll also get to see what other people chose.

Thousands of people have already used the site, and interestingly their sentences are often more lenient than those given in court.

Try it for yourself – You be the Judge.

I enjoyed having a good look at this website – well worth a bit of time.

Always worth having a look at the Supreme Court website for the latest cases and information.

And this is excellent from David Allen Green on The Jack of Kent blog: “The Ministry of Justice is telling people with learning difficulties that they are guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent

And I just had to have a Tweet du Jour

Back later… or a più tardi as they say in Italy…


Law Review: UK broke law in fewer than 1% of European human rights cases in 2014

UK broke law in fewer than 1% of European human rights cases in 2014

“Statistics published as Britain gears up for election that will feature Tory threats to withdraw from the European convention on human rights

The United Kingdom was found to have acted unlawfully in fewer than one per cent of the cases lodged against it last year at the European court of human rights (ECHR), it has been revealed.

Compared with the other 46 countries who are members of the Council of Europe, the UK was the subject of very few judgments – just four cases – that found it had violated its citizens’ rights.

The states with the largest number of judgments involving at least one breach of the European convention on human rights were Russia (122 judgments), Turkey (94), Romania (74), Greece (50) and Hungary (49)…..”

Read the news report

Advertising on the blog: And…if you would like to advertise your blog, law firm, practice or business – please get in touch.  The rates for advertising are tailored to your business and are not expensive.

Please contact me by email if you would like to advertise.

Back later this weekend…

And finally: A man is in court for calling David Cameron a conceited prick on Twitter. Oh dear… – yet more public money wasted?  I am fairly sure that Mr Cameron has been called worse on twitter, in pubs, offices around the land and elsewhere and takes it as part of the job? Frankly, I can’t see him being ‘bovvered’.


Rive Gauche: A bit of Boris and other matters…


Boris has a way with words.  This observation is short but has the advantage of getting to the point quickly. Read the story

A few more choice Boris  quotes from the net…

“Voting Tory will cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3.”

On people visiting their MP:

“The dreadful truth is that when people come to see their MP they have run out of better ideas.”

On why he voted for David Cameron:

“I’m backing David Cameron’s campaign out of pure, cynical self-interest.”


“I can hardly condemn UKIP as a bunch of boss-eyed, foam-flecked Euro hysterics, when I have been sometimes not far short of boss-eyed, foam-flecked hysteria myself.”

And this one appealed to me, particularly…

On being fired by Michael Howard:

“My friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters.”

I am not a Tory – but if we really do have to have a Tory prime minister – Boris would, at least, amuse us?

I think it only fair, given that I am supposed to be writing a law blog, to shoehorn some law in…

But before I do that – one must be even handed…

Quite an interesting Law story…

Contempt of parliament: bluster or real threat?

Ben Emmerson QC was reminded of his legal obligations when he was called to give evidence before a Commons committee

When Ben Emmerson QC was called to give evidence before the Commons home affairs committee on Monday, the legal adviser to the child abuse inquiry was reminded by the chairman of his legal obligations. “The evidence that you give before this committee today is protected by parliamentary privilege,” said Keith Vaz. “It would be a prima facie contempt of the house for any witness knowingly to give false or misleading evidence to a committee of this house.”

As Vaz had the grace to acknowledge, Emmerson knew this better than most. The QC had, after all, acted as special adviser to the Commons standards and privileges committee on precisely these questions. And, as Vaz knew, Emmerson was bound by legal professional privilege. This privilege exists for the benefit of the client rather than the lawyer and meant that Emmerson could not be required to disclose information given to him by the inquiry panel and any advice he had given in response. The lawyer was also bound by a common law duty of confidence that prevented him from divulging, without the panel’s consent, any confidential information he had obtained in his capacity as counsel.

So it looked as if we were about to watch a trial of strength. Would parliamentary privilege trump Emmerson’s legal obligations? Could Vaz force him to answer on pain of contempt?

It is an interesting story – here is the rest of it

Law Review: A look at some of the UK Law blogs




Conflict of Is the Shevill Doctrine Still Up to Date? Some Further Thoughts on CJEU’s Judgment in Hejduk (C-441/13)

Clare Rodways’s The Conversation blog: RSA Chief Exec Matthew Taylor is challenging you to Change The Way You Think in 2015.

David Allen Green – Jack of Kent blog: The Ministry of Justice and the Saudis: ten more unanswered questions

John Bolch – Family Lore: When liability for child support ends: “A very quick note on NG v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions & Anor (Child support : receipt of benefit) (CSM) [2015] UKUT 20 AAC (15 January 2015), which concerned the issue of the correct date on which liability to pay child support ends….”

Carl Gardner – Head of Legal blog: John Cooper QC on the Global Law Summit: “By going there, we are tacitly endorsing what Grayling is doing”

“The Criminal Bar Association’s acceptance of an invitation to speak at the government’s Global Law Summit next month is “pandering” to the Lord Chancellor’s “political opportunism”, John Cooper QC said today in an interview for this website….”

Lallands Peat Worrier: Lights! Camera! Court! – “Should TV companies be entitled to broadcast criminal trials on a regular basis? Ought journalists – or members of the public – to be allowed to sit back in the public gallery, furiously live-tweeting a judge’s sentencing statement, or relaying the arguments being advanced by counsel in the latest round of litigation engulfing Rangers Football Club, to the interested public? ….”

Peter Groves on his Ipso Jure blog: My favourite passing-off case

 “In an area of law where the cases are, almost by definition, often highly amusing, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars v Dodd [1981] FSR 519 is in a class of its own. John Dodd, the proprietor of an automatic transmission repair business, built his own car – actually taking over a rolling chassis which someone else had started and building a body on it – powered by a second-world-war vintage Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. The first iteration used an engine from a Centurion tank, rather less romantic than had it come from a Spitfire, the most celebrated machine in which the Merlin was used: the second car (its predecessor having been destroyed in a fire) had an engine from a bomber (a Mosquito, apparently). It also had a very different body style. Both cars featured a Rolls-Royce radiator grille and Spirit of Ecstasy mascot, at least until the manufacturer (whose company secretary at the time happened also to be called John Dodd) took him to court where Walton J granted an injunction to prevent passing off (referring to the car as a Rolls-Royce) and infringements of the company’s trade marks.
Following the case, Mr Dodd started referring to the car as The Beast. When he promised the judge that he would change the name, Walton J asked where was Beauty. Perhaps in the eye of the beholder?…”

I find it difficult to resist the bizarre…

And..perhaps even more bizarre? The Daily Mail: The spelling mistake that wrecked a family business: Companies House to pay £8.8m damages after engineering firm with 250 workers closed down when government pen-pusher added an extra ‘s’ to document

  • When a company called Taylor & Son went out of business, Companies House recorded that Cardiff-based Taylor & Sons was being liquidated
  • Customers and lenders withdrew business as rumours spread
  • The engineering firm collapsed and sued Companies House over the error
  • Now the State must hand over up to £8.8million after High Court ruling

Read more:

And..from the Magistrates’ Blog: Not Always Exciting, This Job…

 “Today was a stultifyingly boring sitting at one of our outlying courthouses. We dealt with a couple of routine applications (that are of course important to the applicants) and moved on, after a good 20 minutes’ coffee time, to a trial. Well, that was the plan, anyway. The CPS were not sure about how far the case had got and the court office was not too sure either. We hung around, as one does, and went to lunch….”

Giles Peaker – Nearly Legal blog: Just because you are paranoid…

“… doesn’t mean that they aren’t out to get you.

The MoJ and Legal Aid Agency have put out a leaflet on Legal aid and “Help for people at risk of losing their home“. The trouble is that it doesn’t mention, anywhere, at all, not even in little small print, that tenants facing possession proceedings can seek face to face advice from a solicitor. Instead, all requests for help are channelled to the LAA phone line….”

The blog of Obiter J: Lord Neuberger on the (civil) Trial Judge’s role today – “Lord Neuberger – President of the Supreme Court of the UK – has delivered an interesting speech in Manchester – Some thoughts on the post-LASPO civil judge’s role before and during trial

Lord Neuberger emphasised the importance in the common law system of the trial judge and said that, when it comes to case and trial management, as much as possible should be left to the trial judge, whose authority and confidence should be reinforced, no undermined or second guessed, by appellate courts [para 5].

” … the Court of Appeal should be very reluctant in principle to interfere with a trial judge’s procedural ruling, and should only vary or reverse it, when the decision is plainly outside the wide range of reasonable choices which is normally open to a judge in such circumstances….”

And Pink Tape has something for the cold winter days and nights: A woman of many hats

“This week I has mostly been knitting woolly hats. Well, one woolly hat, which looks quite nice but doesn’t entirely fit my actual head. Anyway it was a prototype – an exercise in establishing I have some capacity to knit a hat like object with strange circular knitting needles. And it appears I do….”


The Justice Gap: We live in a system which ‘at its heart has collusion’, said the radical human rights lawyer Michael Mansfield QC to a packed auditorium at St. Mary’s College in Belfast last week. ‘Collusion between higher politics, the upper echelons of the police, and the media.’ Mansfield was delivering the first annual Gerry Conlon memorial lecture, entitled ‘Democratic Bankruptcy’, just metres from where Conlon had grown up on the lower Falls Road.

UK Human Rights blog: What price liberty? Damages, DOLS and a cat named Fluffy

The UK Supreme Court blogA series of recent posts

And finally…. I do miss The White Rabbit’s blogging – always worth reading..



Churchill: “I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”


The Independent noted: “While Jeremy Paxman described him as “a chancer, an egotist and a charlatan“, others have pointed to his flaws as a leader and bigoted views of the world.

The best known  quotes and statements of Sir Winston Churchill are well known.  Here are a few of the ones I particularly enjoy:

“I am prepared to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the great ordeal of meeting me is another matter.”

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.”

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

“History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.”

I remember well watching the funeral all those years ago.  I was at a rather unusual school for 8-13 year old boys in Helensburgh, Scotland which appeared to be run by a group of sociopaths.  One of the older male teachers had a predilection for fondling the ears of young boys while handing out a small Cadbury’s chocolate. Another wandered about the dormitories of an evening at bedtime with a clacken – a large wooden spoon with a smiley face drawn on it. (The teacher drew the smiley face.)  Unusual behaviour…to be sure! I preferred my later education…

Mind you it instilled good learning habits later – attended only 3 lectures and a handful of tutorials at university and spent time reading law books and law reports and discussing law with friends. I recall one lecturer at university used to read out ‘his’ lectures on English Legal History from an expensive textbook (Maitland)  – assuming that none of the students would rumble him.  We did. A friend started reading loudly from the same page the lecturer was giving his lecture from.   The lecturer didn’t have many students attending after that – rightly.

Rive Gauche – The General Election cometh….and the Tories goeth?

Louise Mensch Just Told David Cameron And The Queen To ‘F**k Off’ Over Saudi King Abdullah

It is not often I find myself agreeing with Louise Mensch – but she may have a point here? –

“Former Conservative MP Louise Mensch has unleashed an extraordinary tirade onTwitter, instructing both David Cameron and the Queen to “fuck off”.

Mensch became enraged after the British Government declared all UK flags be flown at half mast to mourn the death of King Abdullah on Thursday.

She began by criticising US President Barack Obama for paying tribute to the late royal, whom Mensch said “whipped women for driving & is currently starving his daughters.”….”

Huffington Post story

In relation to the ‘Pic’ above – I don’t really think our country does need Mr Cameron – but I would say that… being a left wing Labour voter for much of my life…. hey ho…we shall see what Mr Miliband does if he manages to win the election.  I have a horrible feeling he will disappoint.  I shall, as it is sunny today, keep an open mind. Also, I have had a fine hair cut from the haircutters in Kingsbury High Street who had the wonderful name “Good Luck Haircut”… pity they changed the name.  They still do a good hair chop – a bargain at £5 + tip.

And, on a more serious note: Mohammed — in pictures

“The Koran has no injunction against depicting Mohammed. In fact there’s a rich tradition of two-dimensional images of the Prophet in Islam…”

Law Review: ‘Incompetent’ Grayling condemned by ex-Tory MP as ‘off his trolley’

A top of the morning to you – as an Irish gravedigger I dug graves with, when I was a law student, used to say each morning as we had a fag before digging a grave.

I have had the pleasure of doing podcasts with ex Tory MP and barrister Jerry Hayes.  I am sure that Jerry will not mind my observation that he is never short of a few choice words on matters law and political – and he has hit the nail on the head today as reported in the i Newspaper

‘Incompetent’ Grayling condemned by ex-Tory MP as ‘off his trolley’

“Chris Grayling is a disgraceful incompetent who should be sacked as Justice Secretary because he is undermining the legal system, a former Tory MP has claimed.

In a vitriolic personal attack, the barrister Jerry Hayes denounced the minister as “off his trolley” and as a “s*** which will have to be flushed” from office after the election.

Mr Hayes’s onslaught came as Mr Grayling’s controversial reforms to judicial review are now set to become law. The Justice Secretary argues the moves are essential to stop campaigners from resorting to judicial reviews to stymie building projects and disrupt the work of government.

But Mr Hayes, who has resumed a career as a criminal law barrister after losing his Commons seat, delivered a scathing verdict on the minister’s handling of the issue….”
The full article from i

An excellent article and an excellent piece of work and observation from Jerry Hayes.  I shall invite Jerry to do another podcast with me.

A fine start to a pleasing weekend ahead – have a good one.

Guest Post: I’ve been told that I need a hip replacement, and it’s got me worried.

From Thompsons Solicitors and solicitor-advocates

I’ve been told that I need a hip replacement, and it’s got me worried. Not only do I feel decidedly queasy about having the surgery performed – scalpels, knives, incisions, extrications … all that fiddling about – I also feel very ambivalent about the post-surgical period, when I can expect to be bedbound for a time, use a walking frame and be utterly reliant on friends and family for basic help such as washing myself, feeding the cat, shopping and more. The thought of this is enough to keep me hobbling up and down the stairs, in pain, for some months yet.

But as if all of the above were not enough to make me feel hesitant, I then meet up with my brother-in-law for the first time in nearly five years (my wife and her sister have finally managed a reconciliation after a long period of fallout – it was something to do with a childhood argument over sausages – seriously) and discover just how badly things can go – what he told me is nearly enough to get me hiding under the table.

Ok, so here’s his story – inasmuch as I remember and understand it anyway: last time I saw Barry he was going into his local hospital for a double hip replacement. He was only 51, but an active sporting life – lots of five-a-side and a fair bit of squash – had taken its toll on his hips. Docs told him that if he underwent the operation he could expect many more ‘active’ years ahead of him.

But what Barry – and, presumably, the doctors – didn’t bargain on was the ‘mix ‘n’ match’ approach the surgeons would take to his hip replacement – yes, you heard right, ‘mix ‘n’ match. And, yes, it sounds terrifying. So terrifying, in fact, that Barry has recently had so much pain that he has been forced to quit work.

It’s not like the authorities didn’t know about the problem with mix ‘n’ match, says Barry. Apparently the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency knew about the problems for some time yet let hospitals carry on regardless.

Like all the most sinister and terrifying things it seems that for a while everything was fine. Barry returned to work three months after the operation and it was not until two or three years later that he began to have strange pains in his legs and hips.

Doctors at first fobbed him off but later blood tests and MRI scans cast full light on the problem: the mix ‘n’ match nature of the hip sockets in the replacements meant that there was deterioration, causing metal toxins to leak into Barry’s body, raising his selenium levels and giving him muscle and joint pain.

“That sounds awful, Barry,” I told him. “Why don’t you claim compensation?”

Barry explained that he’d tried but had so far been unsuccessful. I tried finding a reputable personal injury solicitor firm for him (the ones he instructed sound truly terrible): I’ve done my research and think I’ve stumbled on Scotland’s best (let me know if you know of any better) and it seems that they know a thing or two about the problems associated with metal-on-metal implants.

Whatever the case, Barry’s ordeal has certainly made me circumspect about having my operation done. I don’t want to have to make a hip replacement claim.

This guest post was supplied by

Podcasts on Scots Law

I am doing a series of podcasts on Scots Law.  Although I am a Scot – I read English Law.  Fortunately, I know a fair few lawyers and Scots judges from my past (I was ‘educated’ in Scotland 8-18 years of age).

I am delighted that I have my first podcastee from Scotland – Michelle Hynes who tweets regularly.

I may have to change the flag on ‘my glasses’ in the blog header bar to a Saltire!

Rive Gauche: Ian Duncan Smith – happy for people to visit foodbanks.










Watching the Daily Politics programme on Europe at 6.00 am this morning, I marvelled at the ‘contribution’ made by Margot Parker – a kipper in Europe. There are times, listening to Kippers on politics programmes, when I wonder what we have done as a nation to deserve UKIP.

Or, indeed, to ‘deserve’ politicians who say this…

Clipped from Twitter

I have voted Labour at every election – sometimes, it has to be said with some regret – but with some of the present ‘collection’ of rather unpleasing Tory politicians..I am only sorry that we are not allowed to ‘vote early and often’.