Jolly Hollyhocks!

Red Hollyhocks
After three years of trying everything, I have finally got two hollyhocks to flower in my garden. They are beautiful. Tall and stately with over sixty light red blooms on one of the plants. The picture doesn’t really do it justice, but not a day goes by that I don’t go into the garden and celebrate them. Of course, poets have been writing about plants and gardens since time began. Indeed in India, Persia, China and Japan many poets were gardeners and vice versa. One of my favourite garden poems is, ‘On a Fine Crop of Peas being Spoiled by a Storm’ by Henry Jones (1721 – 1770), it’s a charming poem with a moral for all of us. Another favourite, written in 1934 is Reginald Arkell’s, ‘What is a Garden?’. But pride of place for me has to go to Edgar Bateman’s, ‘The Cockney Garden’ which is a musical piece that, I understand, was originally written for the music hall and meant to be sung to music by Geo Le Brunn. I am trying to get hold of a book of Bateman’s writing.
He worked as a postman in Bethnal Green for many years, while writing some of the funniest music hall songs. He was known as, The Shakespeare of Aldgate Pump. Here’s a snatch of Cockney Garden:

If you saw my little backyard, ‘wot a pretty spot’ you’d cry –
It’s a picture on a sunny summer day:
Wiv the turnip-tops and cabbages wot people don’t buy
I makes it on a Sunday look so gay
The neighbours fink I grows ‘em, and you’d fancy you’re in Kent
Or at Epsom, if you gaze into the mews:
It’s a wonder as the landlord doesn’t want to raise the rent,
Because we’ve got such nobbly distant views.

Chorus:
Oh! It really is a werry pretty garden,
And Chingford to the eastward could be seen;
Wiv a ladder and some glasses,
You could see to ‘Ackney Marshes,
If it wasn’t for the ‘ouses in between.

There are several verses of wonderful stuff. Now why don’t they write songs like that any more!