Gardeners' question time - by James Archer
(Cast: Gardener, Service Leader, Forester.
The gardener needs a wheelbarrow, ideally one with a loud squeak, with two saplings which look the same ready for planting in it. Enter Gardener at the back wheeling the barrow.)
Gardener (Talking to members of the congregation as he enters) Hello, is this the place? I haven’t missed it, have I? Is he still here?That chap from the BBC – Stefan Buchevski? This is the Gardeners’ Question Time studio, isn’t it? I do hope I haven't missed him or she’ll be hopping mad with me. (Reaches front)
Service leader Excuse me, can I help you?
Gardener Not unless your name is Stefan Buchevski, you can’t. Where is he? Do you know?
Service leader Look. This is not Gardeners’ Question Time, and I am not Stefan Buchevski. You have interrupted right in the middle of our Sunday church service.
Gardener Oh, it’s a church, is it? Well, I’m sorry about that. Still perhaps you people could help me instead. I’m in a terrible fix.
Service leader We’d like to help you if we can, but I’m afraid we’re not dressed for planting trees.
Gardener No, it’s not help with the planting I need. Do you know anything about trees?
Service leader Not much myself, I’m afraid, but there may be someone here who can help. (To the congregation) Can anyone help? I think we need a tree specialist here? Is there a tree doctor in the house?
Forester (Coming up from his seat in the congregation) Can I help? I know a thing or two about trees. What’s your problem? (Starts studying the trees)
Gardener Can you? Thanks very much. I’d be very grateful – you see, it’s my wife. She says to me, “Plant this one in the prime spot for all to see. It will be beautiful there, see? But not that other one there, mind. Make sure you don’t fill the best spot with that one, won’t you? Not that it’s not just as lovely,” she says, “but it would never do to see that one in the wrong place.”
Forester Well, that seems like sound advice to me. So what’s your problem?
Gardener The problem is, which one is which? She just kept pointing at the barrow and saying this is this and that is that. I didn’t like to ask which tree was which; well, she would have thought that I didn’t know myself, wouldn’t she. The fact is that, once I came to have a close look, they look identical. It can’t matter too much, can it? I mean, if I got them mixed up by mistake, she wouldn’t notice, would she?
Forester I’m afraid she would know. These trees are quite different from each other. I know they look the same. Look at this lovely leaf here – and this little bud ……
Gardener There you are, just as I thought. Just the same – so why should it matter?
Forester Ah, well, because this is a cherry tree. It is very pretty and will grow quickly with pink flowers and a beautiful shape and produce sweet cherries. The other one is a flowering cherry tree; it’s the flowering version of the same species, bred specifically for larger pink flowers, but with only small tart cherries. This tree is quite different, but you will only notice the difference in the spring and summer.
Gardener I see. So I can tell the difference from the blossom and the fruit.
Forester Yes, that’s right. By their fruit you shall know them.