Small, pale, but ...
... very pretty.
These little gems have somehow found their home in the most inhospitable bit of ground just at the entrance to our allotment site. They are little Spring marvels and we all look forward to their arrival each year.
I promised yesterday to explain why rhubarb from Balmoral Castle graces so many plots on the Garthdee Field Allotments site. Here goes.
We need to go back some seventy years. Jim is the Head Gardener on the Royal Estate at Balmoral. Sandy is a junior gardener on a nearby shooting estate.
Each summer Balmoral hosts a Flower and Fruit Show in early August. Each year, Jim enters his Balmoral strain of rhubarb and Sandy enters an every-day variety - five matching sticks from each. Every year the result is the same: Jim takes first prize, Sandy second.
After each show, Sandy asks Jim if he can have a root cutting from the Balmoral variety. Every year, Jim says that he is sorry, that isn’t possible, for it’s not his to give.
This goes on for forty flower shows. Then Jim, the next winter, runs out of growing seasons. His daughter Mary nurses him until he dies.
The next day, Sandy gets a phone call from Mary, telling him her father had passed away in his sleep. His last words the evening before she says were, “Oh aye, will you phone young Sandy in the morning and say he can come by anytime and pick up that rhubarb he wants”.
So, Sandy then has Balmoral rhubarb in his garden that he grows on for the next thirty plus years. He enters rhubarb in local shows and wins first prizes more years than not: but not for the Balmoral variety: that wouldn’t be right, in Sandy’s book.
Sandy does however plant some on his allotment on Garthdee Field. Today, you can find clumps on a dozen or more plots around the site, each gifted by Sandy.
I was offered mine when Sandy was ninety. That’s when I was told this story, more or less as I have repeated it here.
Sandy died, in June last year, a week after his ninety-second birthday. He had been working his plot until a week or so before. We miss him still.