The bid by Glastonbury Horticultural Society to buy Glastonbury Tor from the National Trust moved a step closer to completion today as visitors were met by 100 new Keep Off The Garlic signs.
The signs are part of an experiment to see whether visitors to the tor react favourably to the plans to replant the grass with huge swathes of Garlic and vines if the Glastonbury Horticultural Society buyout is successful.
But critics are concerned that the timing is bad, because last week a new system was introduced requiring visitors to pass a balance test before being allowed to ascend Glastonbury Tor for fear that less nimble visitors would be unable to navigate the complicated Keep Off The Grass and Keep Off The Path signs.
Visitors to Glastonbury Tor will asked to complete a survey to find out which they prefer – garlic or grass – if at least half of the participants prefer garlic then the Glastonbury Horticultural Society buyout will be allowed to proceed.
In a surprise move only hours after Glastonbury Horticulture Society announced their bid to buy Glastonbury Tor from the National Trust, Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers announced at a surprise press briefing today that they have agreed to buy a controlling share in Glastonbury Horticulture Society.
This is seen by industry insiders as a move to outflank Deutsch Gartenbau Abteilung, the German horticulture consortium that bought fifteen small mountains in Belgium in 2010, and has been greedily eyeing the nominees for mountain status announced by the GIPN this year.
Société d’Horticulture de Poitiers have big plans for Glastonbury Tor if their purchase is successful; “We have slightly modified the plan announced by Glastonbury Horticultural Society to plant displays of variegated shrubs and perennials over the tor as far as the eye can see. We still envisage a major replanting but now are going to focus on a mixed crop of garlic and vines. Research indicates that it pleases people who visit modern horticultural pleasure parks when they see vegetation that has real commercial value.”
National Trust Chief Gatekeeper at the tor Titania Bonham-Smythe had mixed feelings when we talked to her today; “I was awfully excited by the idea of the variegated shrubs, but I’m not sure people will enjoy visiting Glastonbury Tor if their view over the plains is obstructed by vines. I actually think the Deutsch Gartenbau Abteilung bid for the tor might be more in line with the profile of visitors we see. I spent a week working in the gift shop at one of their Belgian mountains recently and their Klabautermann Marmelade (Hobgoblin Marmalade) had a piquancy you wouldn’t believe!”
“It’s just so dull at the moment. We envisage a display of variegated shrubs and perennials as far as the eye can see” says Glastonbury Horticultural Society ground-cover technician Oliver Swetherstone, waving his arm across the wide expanse of grass on Glastonbury Tor.
The tor is admittedly rather samey, with swathes of grass broken only by St. Michael’s Tower at the top. It has been this way for as long as anyone can remember. But it seems the Glastonbury Horticultural Society thinks of this as a wasted opportunity, and with financial backing from a consortium of local businesses, it could be that the tenancy currently enjoyed by the National Trust could be replaced by something a lot more colourful.
Swetherstone continued “admittedly the walk from the National Trust gift shop up to the stuffed animals display in the tower is enjoyable, but since they closed St. Michael’s Prison it is no longer important for the guards to have a clear line of sight for their searchlights. This gives us a fabulous opportunity to cover the whole space in displays of exotic shrubbery, and as a result increase the number of visitors ten-fold.”
Uther Henge, the chief mystical consultant for the National Trust stationed permanently at their gift shop at Glastonbury Tor, normally so outspoken in defence of the Trust, was at something of a loss for words; “Since the news last week about the new branch of Tescos I thought things were going to settle down around here, but it seems that was just the first step of a radical change to the tor. I suppose it will be a lot more colourful if the Glastonbury Horticultural Society buyout goes ahead, and a lot of gardeners will be employed maintaining the shrubs. I’m sorry though, this might be an old-fashioned view but horticulture is just not very mystical, is it?”