Guilty as charged

Sandra O'Hagan
2 min readJan 4, 2021


The sales assistant of a Curtain Fabric Shop was the latest prosecution witness at the trial of a West Cork mother of three. The young lady confirmed that the defendant had been in her shop repeatedly in September and October looking at fabrics, when pressed she confirmed that the weather at this time was ‘perfect for Gardening’.

Every day the accused has arrived in court wearing Wellies and carrying a trug obviously trying to impress the learned Judge who is known to be a keen Gardener. Although the lesser charge of “Failing to pull weeds” has now been dropped, the outstanding “Serious garden neglect” offence carries a hefty sentence. The prosecution case seems to be overwhelming as a procession of workers, from an array of Retail outlets, have confirmed the presence of the accused during ‘ the particularly fine Autumn of last year’.

The jury was clearly shocked when photographs were produced of the defendants’ garden. They were chilling: unkempt Perennials, scruffy beds, dead annuals and weeds running amok. Sighs of agreement could be heard as the prosecution barrister bluntly put it to them that ‘This garden should be tidy and well maintained. In fact if the defendant had been out gardening instead of shopping for soft furnishings, the only work required now would be mulching, pruning and preparing the ground for planting. It is a disgrace!’ Computer records also showed that the usually diligent housewife had spent a lot of time on the Internet but not on any horticultural websites.

After a short adjournment, during which the accused was seen browsing at nic-nacs in a nearby Department Store, it was finally the turn of the Defence. Basically their argument was that the creation of a relaxing bedroom with luxurious curtains was an essential part of an Amateur Gardeners life. Whilst the garden may have suffered in the short term the improved welfare of the accused and her increased happiness would ultimately help her to work harder in the garden. Several character witnesses confirmed that since the ‘dream bedroom’ had been completed the petite wife and mother of three teenagers seemed very happy, although they all had to concede that the garden was looking particularly neglected. The jury didn’t even bother deliberating, they just shouted in unison “Guilty as Charged”.

Thankfully I’ve nearly finished my sentence but it’s been hard work. Once the weather finally warmed up I deadheaded, removed any annuals and cut back my perennials. Clearing the massive build up of weeds is still ongoing and the pruning has been much harder because most shrubs and trees had already put on new growth. All this when all I really want to be doing is sowing seeds in the Glasshouse…case closed.

Written 28th January 2004