Did I hear a squeal emit from your lips, Gertrude?
“Yes, you most certainly did! And with good reason! I’ve just received the most extraordinary letter.”
Have you now? Do tell us more.
“It’s from a lord! A genuine lord! It has his coat of arms at the top and his name and address (a very prestigious address) in curly writing embossed beneath it. And – oh! – he says the most astonishing things about me.”
I think you’d better share the contents of this letter with us, Gertie dear.
My dear Miss Jekyllton-Smythe,
No doubt you will be somewhat surprised to hear from me. Allow me to introduce myself: I am Horatio, the fifth Lord Backgammon, of Charlton Regis. I have a rather interesting project, with which I would be most honoured if you felt able to assist me.
You came to my attention through a friend who dabbles in temporal transportation – a ‘time traveller’ in common parlance. His favourite era is the first half of the twentieth century, upon which he has become something of an expert. Henry tells me that in that time, you are a lady of some renown. In fact he says you are the most sought-after garden designer in this nation of ours and have published some quite excellent books on the subject. Obviously, this will be news to you, since we have not had the privilege of visiting the future, but no doubt you will greet the information with some delight.
Now to the purpose: I have, in my grounds, a small piece of land known as ‘The Board’. It was laid out by my great-great-grandfather to the dimensions of a backgammon board (a pun on the family name, obviously). Since his time, it has fallen into disrepair and I recently had it cleared. I enclose a photographic print for your perusal. Each of the two sections measures 8 x 17½ foot and is enclosed by a low wall, approximately one foot high. I would be delighted if you would agree to design and oversee the construction of a garden in this area for me.
The brief is as follows:
- The layout of the original backgammon board is to be retained, in deference to my ancestor.
- There will need to be a lake or pond of some kind, to house a pet of mine.
- I should like a small glasshouse or orangery, since I am most partial to exotic fruits.
- Mechanical systems should be incorporated wherever possible for watering, grass-cutting etcetera. I will gladly undertake to design and manufacture these elements myself.
Please contact me at the above address, should you feel willing to undertake this project.
Yours very sincerely,
“Just imagine! I’m to become famous! And successful! And – well certainly it’s a very small space – but what an exciting proposal. So much more entertaining and creative than designing red, white and blue bedding plant displays in municipal parks, as I do at the moment.”
Certainly it is an interesting project, Gertie. Congratulations. I wonder what sort of aquatic pet his lordship owns…