Rules? Aren’t they there to be broken?

No, sorry I can’t say that any more, not in my position. Even though certain garden practises can be. On the odd occasion when I have looked up something on-line (especially on-line), in a book or a magazine and have not been entirely confident with the information given to me, I have gone with my gut feeling and experience; a lot of the times it works …. but not always.

Rules and Regulations are everywhere, we have: general Health and Safety, Safety Data Sheets, COSHH (Control of Substances Hazardous to Health), Respect and Dignity, Fire Regulations, Manual Handling the list goes on and on. Most I agree with fully, especially when it comes down to peoples health and safety alongside the respect and dignity side of things; plus when it comes to protecting the environment.

The rules that I’m talking about, are the in-house rules you may still have and used to find in a working garden. As said, we all have the ones set for us by outside factors, I’m talking of the ones set by either the Head Gardener, garden owner, the Human Resources dept or all of the above.

The following rules and regulations I first saw in a brilliant book called ‘The Head Gardener – Forgotten Heroes of Horticulture’ by Toby Musgrave; definitely a must read book. So I wondered, how these may have changed compared to any modern day garden rules that we may have.

RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE
PLANT DEPARTMENT IN BICTON GARDENS – 1842

THE FOLLOWING RULES TO BE STRICTLY ATTENDED TO AND FINES TO BE PAID EACH PAY-DAY. THE AMOUNT SO PAID TO BE DIVIDED EQUALLY AMONGST THE MEN AT THE END OF YEAR, OR PUT TO SOME USEFUL PURPOSE. AS SHALL BE AGREED ON.

(Fines are all in old money)

1. Coming to work on a Monday morning vita a dirty shirt………………………….3

2. Coming to work morning without shoes being laced or tied……………………..3

3. any person employed in these departments found gathering fruit with unwashed hands………………………………………………………………………………….4

4. Going into any hothouse, greenhouse &c, or walking on any gravel walk with dirty shoes…………………………………………………………………………………………3

5. Taking a wheel-borrow with a dirty wheel on the walks, or in my other way making dirt and not immediately cleaning the same up………………………………3

6. Leaving any door or gate open in any department of the garden……………….3

7. Leaving door or gate unlocked, after opening the same, and not returning the key to its proper place…………………………………………………………………….3

8. Leaving any stoke-hole dirty, and not keeping the ashes cleaned out from under the grate, not sifting the cinders once a week…………………………………..3

9. Leaving any fire at night not in proper trim or order………………………………3

10. Leaving anything dangerous in or about the stoke-holes or furnaces……..12

11. Leaving a job unfinished in an un-workmanlike manner…………………………3

12. Making any waste of coals, dropping them about, or not keeping them swept clean up together………………………………………………………………………..3

13. Leaving open the cover of any 6-oiler or cistern…………………………………..6

14. Smoking a pipe of tobacco in the hours of work……………………………………4

15. Neglecting to grease a wheelbarrow when requisite………………………………3

16. Leaving any tool; wheelbarrow, steps, ladder, water-pot, &c., out of its proper place or putting it away dirty………………………………………………………3

17. Leaving rubbish in any hot house or greenhouse, or in any way making dirty and not immediately cleaning the same up……………………………………….3

18. Leaving heaps of grass,weeds,leaves or any rubbish whatever about the pleasure-grounds, borders walks,&c for each heap…………………………………….3

19. Carelessly breaking any plant, pan. grass, tool &c…………………………………3

20. Breaking any flower-pot with plants in it, and not immediately potting the same plants properly……………………………………………………………………………6

21. Neglecting, to do a job after having been once……………………………………..3

told of it the second time………………………………………………………………………6

22. Neglecting to attend to water fountains &c………………………………………….3

23. Any man found at his work intoxicated shall forfeit his days wages, and be otherwise dealt with as thereafter shall be considered- just.

24. Swearing or making of bad language, for every separate evil-expression….3

25. Damaging or in any mutilating or defacing the above Rules………………….12

J. BARNES; HEAD GARDNER
BICTON GARDENS SEPT 26 1842

Now, how many of those rules would still apply today, in a working garden? Or, with a little tweaking how would those set of rules look like in 2013?

1. Coming to work on a Monday morning, still visibly hungover from the night before, with remnants of curry sauce on your T-shirt………………………………£5

2. Coming to work with your shirt not tucked in and shoe laces undone (that’s me knackered)…………………………………………………………………………………..£2

3. Thinking you can juggle fruit and making a complete prat of yourself (me again) ……………………………………………………………………………………………..£2

4. Entering greenhouses with dirty boots, leaving door open on cold days, then proceed to bang, scrape mud off boots on the greenhouse staging legs……………………………………………put in stocks and pelted with tinned fruit!

5. Taking a wheel barrow with dirty wheels on to paths. Then proceeding to play chicken with a work colleague, crashing into one another………………if you hurt yourself £4.50 – if not………………………………….. back into the stocks.

6. Leaving the gardeners hut door open, then denying all knowledge of being there, even though your mug still had warm tea in it, you where seen pulling faces at the CCTV camera and overhead talking on your mobile phone for half an hour; saying how busy you are………………………………………………………………………………………………….£9

7. Leaving the garden gates open, so all and sundry come wandering into the garden……………………………………………………………………………………………..£2

8. Leaving the kitchen area in the gardeners hut messy overnight, leave the milk out, then complain the following morning, that the milk has gone off……£5

9. Having a garden fire and using, petrol, methylated spirits, waste oil, gas cannisters or any other explosive materials to ignite the fire…………………..£10

10. Leaving a blazing fire unattended…………………………………………………..£10

11. Leaving a job unfinished in an un-workmanlike manner (leaving that one the same)…………………………………………………………………………………………£8

12. Dispersing cold fire ash with a leaf blower………….No fine here, if you are stupid enough to attempt this …. you deserve everything you get.

13. Not putting the cap back on a petrol lawn mower after filling it up…………£3

14. Smoking in front of a ‘No Smoking’ sign, then complaining when you are told not to………………………………………………………………………………………………£3

15. Using Swarfega or any other liquid soap to grease up wheelbarrow wheels…£3

16. Leaving any tool; wheelbarrow, steps, ladder, water-pot, out of its proper place or putting it away dirty; then blaming someone who was off sick that day without realising they were…………………………………………………………………£8

17. Leaving rubbish in any greenhouse, or in any way making dirty and not immediately cleaning the same up………………………………………………………..£6

18. Leaving heaps of grass,weeds,leaves or any rubbish or whatever about the garden, borders walks and pathways; for someone to fall over them…………..£5

19. Carelessly breaking any plants, tools, machinery or wind…………………..£10

20. Breaking any flower-pot with plants in it, and not immediately potting the same plants properly………………………………………………………………………….£8

21. Neglecting, to do a job after having been told once……………………………..£3

Being told of it the second time…………………………………………………………….£6

22. Urinating behind a tree whilst singing and thinking no-one can see you….£8

Not singing……………………………………………………………………………………….£6

23. Swearing or using suggestive hand signals…………………………………………£9

24. Singing loudly and out of tune whilst listening to your I pod………………..£4

Singing in tune………………………………………………………………………………..£3.5

25. Coming to work still drunk or intoxicated in anyway…………………………£12

26. Tripping over an up-turned rake, that was left by you on the ground (have to confess to that one as well)………………………………………………………………£5

27. Damaging or de-facing the above rules in anyway……………………will be tied down in a chair and made to listen too Kylie Minogue for four continuous hours and then fined…………………………………………………………………………………£20

Now, none of these have happened where I work, but these are some of the stories I have heard over the years I have spent in horticulture. We have all heard ’em and many more, some even more unbelievable than the ones above.

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