Monday, October 22, 2007

Londoner prickles knees on Aussie weeds

This column has appeared in The Redland Times, Cleveland, Redland Shire, Queensland, Australia. Image of Mill Field, part of the 849ha of "green spaces" in the London Borough of Barnet, from

THE prickly problem of the weed, bindii, has been so bad this spring that just about everyone and anyone has been yelling, "Ouch".
Even Redland Council, in its weekly column, has had a whinge about the bindii plague it said was gripping south-east Queensland lawns.
Although the council advised householders to seek counsel on suitable elimination, a Gardening Australia Online Forum appears to give "knife and bucket’ the vote as the best organic way to tackle bindii.
One forum blogger has recommended an early morning attack while the dew-drenched weeds stretch in the rising sun.
CAPALABA’s Dave Franklin certainly exercised his north London vocal cords on the dreaded bindii the other day.
"They prickled me knees, didn’t they," he said, with the thick brogue of the Borough of Barnet, after a gardening job at Ormiston.
With a business called Redrose Garden Services brandishing that frightfully British flower as its logo in our Gardening Services column, Dave is accustomed to a prickle or two after 20 years of gardening in two countries.
But the bindii is well worth complaining about. A Londoner apparently would not miss this plague for the world.
In fact, Dave could have been waiting for this moment after migrating about seven years ago as the husband of the former Vanessa Chalk, who grew up amid the then undoubtedly bindii-infested lawns of Capalaba but lived prickle free with her family in Barnet for some years.

THE couple already had a toddler when they moved to the Redlands and eldest son, Thomas, is now nine years old, with two brothers -- Alex, 4, and Nicholas, 3.
Dave not only is a career gardener offering a full range of services from "soft landscaping" to, you guessed it, "weed control" but also carries on a proud family tradition.
He says his dad, Tony, was a gardener for about 45 years, mainly in the "posh areas like Kensington and Chelsea", before an early retirement about six years ago.
The son admits his Redland client list lacks at least some of the status of dad’s customers, who included the Duke of Bedford, actor Ralph Fiennes, singer Leo Sayer and the odd business tycoon or two.
Dave says his parents travel to many countries, including Canada and the United States, where their two daughters now live. They get to Capalaba every 18 months to two years.

LET’s hope Tony is on the way. Dave says the boys have been complaining about the bindiis in the Franklins’ own lawn.
But Dave is resolute: "I’m not going to come home to work on my own place after taking care of everybody else’s weeds every damned day, am I?"
Maybe it’s because he’s a Londoner. When Tony’s here, they can sing that famous chorus in stereo with the lawn as their stage.

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