Introducing Felicity Fiacre, our new garden watch-woman. She’s there to guard the raspberry, gooseberry and vegetable beds.
She’s tucked into the spot where previously we had the bird bath (which has now been relocated to the very bottom corner of the patch).
During a big re-fit for a ‘new look’ in the big guy’s sport store last spring, the managers were planning to consign the mannequins to the rubbish. So he rescued her, knowing she still had a role to play and that there was a job opening for scarecrow at the allotment.
So there you go, Felicity’s a semi-retired mannequin, complete with garden hoe and growing basket.
We’ve named her in honour of the Irish patron saint of gardening – celebrated in France to this day on 30 August.
Sure, she’s a little strange – with freaky white skin and is somewhat larger than life. But two minutes into her installation she was already gathering complements from other allotmenteers (though admittedly that view may not be universal).
To be an effective garden watch woman she will need something that catches the wind and rustles, moves and shifts. A scarf perhaps? Or maybe some hair? Needless to say, as a mannequin her wardrobe can be adjusted, changed for seasons and mood. She even has a spare pair of rubber boots – with an old red set of Hunters waiting in the wings.
The basket in her hand (another gift from the garbage) was filled with a one inch layer of soil, into which I transplanted a few self-seeded calendula taken from the cauliflower plot, and two self-seeded nasturtium. The calendula are bright yellow flowering, and the nasturtium with be a mix of yellow, red and orange. When these grow and come into flower that basket in her hand is going to look magnificent!
Saint Fiacre (Irish: Fiachra, Latin: Fiacrius) is the name of three different Irish saints, the most famous of which is Saint Fiacre of Breuil (c. AD 600 – 18 August 670), the Catholic priest, abbot, hermit, and gardener of the seventh century who was famous for his sanctity and skill in curing infirmities. He emigrated from his native Ireland to France, where he constructed for himself a hermitage together with a vegetable and herb garden, oratory, and hospice for travellers. He is the patron saint of gardeners. (Saint Fiacre, Catholic Online); Accessed 2 May 2020.
Saint Fiacre’s Day is celebrated on 30 August or 1 September, depending on who you consult. One blot on Fiacre’s credentials is his reputation as someone who refused to interact with women. Apparently Fiacre forbade women from entering his hermitage, gardens and oratory. This, to me, is hard to reconcile; Fiacre was clearly a gifted and intuitive herbalist and naturalist. How can one have sympathy for the natural world and deny half of humanity? But I wonder if this is yet more of the woman-hating ‘whitewash’ of hagiographers. Something just doesn’t sit right.
Never mind. No matter. Felicity’s arrived to redeem the day and the name.