Lost Words and Leaves on the Lawn

I recently came across a whole list of words that have drifted out of our language. We often hear of new words entering the canon, the OED is full of words and phrases that have not been around for hundreds of years. ‘Air-punching’, ‘binky’ (?) ‘bovver’, ‘glamping’, ‘duded-up’ all new this year (there are hundreds) but bovver? I’d have thought that would have entered soon after Flymo created their first hover mower in 1977 (they are still doing it it, and they are better than ever).

However, like Ronnie Corbett, I digress (surprise, surprise). Words and phrases that have left the language include some real corkers, many unearthed by a fabulous Radio 4 programme called “Word of Mouth”. Some examples include Owl Jacket (a jacket left on the back of your chair at work to make it look like you are slaving away although you are actually bunking off in the local boozer) Sprunt – a Scottish word for chasing girls around a haystack after dark. How specific and, more importantly, dodgy, is that? “Just going off for a bit of a sprunt, Mum, back after ten”. Then there’s Flype (to roll  up your socks or stockings or leggings before you put them on) and my absolute favourite – Snollygoster which sounds like a word Roald Dahl made up for the BFG but is actually a word for a dishonest person and dates back to the the eighteen hundreds. This page has some more, great examples 

So. What does this have to do with gardening and so on? Well, one of the words on that page is Biffin, which, it turns out, is a kind of English cooking apple of a dark red variety. I happen to have a Biffin Tree in my garden and I was surprised to find out that the word has been virtually rubbed out. It’s also interesting (well to me) that the Biffin is from Norfolk, the home of MowDirect. Yay!

Billy Goat - It will eat anything. Watch your laundry!
Billy Goat KV600 – It will eat anything. Watch your laundry!

Anyway, the point is that there were big red Biffins all over my lawn and I have had to pick them up and turn them into something edible (chutney, pies and I’m going to have a go at some cider ) Biffins are actually quite sweet despite being cookers)  as they could damage the lawn if I leave them. And, of course, the same goes for leaves. Dick’s blog yesterday dealt with one of the excellent Billy Goat leaf and litter vacuums which are capable of picking up just about anything, leaves, paper cups, even glass bottles a reducing them to small particles. very useful for making mulch (without the glass of course) and superb for cleaning up your garden. It will even pick up my Biffins but I can’t make decent pies with apple mulch so picking them up is my job.

This brings me, eventually, to the main point of this weeks meander through my addled brain. Leaves. DON’T LEAVE THEM ON THE LAWN. Sorry for shouting but they will cause problems. They can lead to disease and choke your lawn, depriving it of water and nutrients. So a Billy Goat Vac would be great but it could also be a good quality hand held leaf blower-vac, or leaf sweeper, just as long as you do it.

And that’s it for me. Short and sweet but, hopefully, enough encouragement to get on and clear your lawn. And watch out for the Biffins! Enjoy your garden.

Drew Hardy

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