The best prose I know …
Is to be found in the Chiltern Seed catalogue. It’s not an original discovery, and I’m indebted to Beverley Nichols, my favourite garden writer, for talking about how seed catalogues could produce spring in the gardener’s mind in the depths of winter. Here’s an example of their elegant, informative text:
Khella, Toothpick seeds
Also rejoicing in the English name, Toothpick, this is a robust perennial from the Mediterranean region cultivated in ancient Egypt and still popular there today. Of the Cow Parsley/Carrot type with large and handsome, white flower heads (should be good for cutting), the seeds are used as a spice, particularly for a pickled cheese called mish, and the leaves are chewed for their pleasant aromatic flavour. 2-3 ft.
Now how could you resist ordering a packet of those to brighten up your borders?
Every time I sit down with their catalogue, I’m reminded how important good writing is to so many businesses. Which is why I was depressed to find the grocer’s apostrophe being used by no less a company than Green & Black’s, who sent me a press release about their 2006 Chocolate Calendar, which is on display at Harrods. They also ran a competition to win 20 individual Calendar’s.