Earthy Fashions

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"Rain again," I remark, obviously.

"At least," says Sir Alec, "you have the right footwear."

Sir Alec (he resembles a famous actor in disguise) jogs/walks in the park when I dog-walk. He is no dog-walker. Nor is he a paid-up plot-holding gardener. So he doesn't wear black wellies like me.

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Wellingtons, for the uninitiated, are high rubber boots, perfect footwear for our prevailing mid-diluvian conditions - though I wear them year-round. One grows used to them somehow.

They are guaranteed impermeable. Until they start to leak, that is. The right boot of my current pair recently started taking in water like a doomed ship, and I no longer felt exactly blessed to sail in her (or him - wellies probably being male). But to buy new ones involves a time-consuming trip into town, and pro tem I've been borrowing, as it were, a leaf out of Red's boot.

He wears plastic bags between his socks and his boots. He swears by them. As a fashion statement it seems difficult to beat. In practical terms, though, I find the bags a touch slithery. Maybe a smaller size....

One might imagine that questions sartorial are low on the list of plotters' priorities. Appearance is the last thing on the minds of those deeply engaged with earthworms and mulch. Yet there are observable degrees of finesse in allotment wear.

Joe Gallagher's preferred jacket, for instance, is apparently a canny mix of plaid and corduroy described to me with admiration by the keen-eyed and textilish Visiting Artist (the V.A.) as "a hybrid." Like his jacket, Joe's Harris-tweed cap looks so totally at home on him he surely sleeps in it.

Red, on the other hand, dons headgear that would suit a bear stalker. Presumably it's meant to strike terror into the hearts of aphids.

Nurse Elizabeth sheds her working uniform in favor of fetchingly casual dungarees in which to womanfully battle her virgin wilderness.

Robin, who flies in the face of allotment convention and trains honeysuckle and roses over a trellis, all but vanishes on wet days inside a gummy array of impregnable clothing. It's topped off with a woolly hat suggesting membership of some secret clan devoted to underwater exploration. All you can see are his bushy eyebrows, black as Pavarotti's, and grinning eyes. How he works in such heavy armor I can't imagine. But he does, and vigorously.

And now here comes Monty through the gate (or at least she did so one day last spring) dazzlingly attired in a shell suit of many colors all scrupulously calculated for optimum clash: neon pink, pea green, sky blue, citrus yellow, vermilion, emerald. Her fluorescent socks would have been worn proudly by a 1950s Teddy Boy.

She was a vibrant vision, yet oddly zestful. I can't recall if she was also wearing "strappy gold sandals" spotted by the V.A. on another occasion. My only question is, does she change into more mundane attire in her shed before she starts earthing up her celery?

DOES she wear wellies? I must find out. I think that if she does, they must be green ones.

Green wellies! I wouldn't be seen dead in them. Everyone knows they are for suave types in nicely cut trousers and pristine gloves who believe a fork is something with which you eat smoked salmon.

Though now I'm told that even green wellies are no longer the thing. Today, the V.A. assures me, blue is the "new green" in welly-wear.

* A weekly series about a municipal garden in Glasgow.

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