A latter day Don Quixote

I get a fair number of emails from strangers. Too many are people trying to order plants from us – I have complained about this before; then there are a whole lot from people who think that research on the internet comprises finding somebody who might know the information, locating their address and sending an email along the lines of ‘please tell me all you know’. I admit I delete most of these. I no longer feel obligated to reply to every email. Then there is the spam. Initially, I thought the email I am about to share was spam but as I read through, I realised not. It is, I think, a combination of trying to order product from us which we don’t have and never have had, a ‘tell me everything you know’ (which is actually nothing on this topic) AND an offer that is, the sender thinks, too good for me to refuse.

A single photo and mention of parasol mushrooms from 2014

As far as I can make out, the only reason I was singled out for this attention is because back in 2014, I wrote a piece about autumn fungi which included a photo of parasol mushrooms.

Do not spoil the big reveal. Hold back your impatience. At least speed read the body of the email before you scroll down to the photos at the bottom that the writer included, showing the glory of the HUGE container filled with beautiful plants located in such a prominent place that it is admired by thousands of people. It is worth the wait.


You have a chance to join a charity project which is seen by thousands of people of general public and you can have a sales promotion, for free, of your mushroom business:

I am an owner of a huge container of beautiful plants located in a public place, in the front of the entrance of Balham library in London, quite close to the Waitrose supermarket, so, thousands of people are passing by my huge container and enjoying the plants’ beauty.

I do this my private charity project to support the beauty of plants.

Please, SEE the pictures in the attachments.

Right now, I am going to add to my plants, beautiful Parasols, Macrolepiota proceras, on the corner of the huge container under the pine tree, (SEE the pictures) to be very visible by the thousands of people of general public so that they can be enjoying the beauties of the big beautiful Parasols, Macrolepiota proceras.

I am not any expert about any plants. I just want people can enjoy the beauties of plants. So, please, can you send me already prepared, ready to grow, cultivation kit, that can be transferred directly into my top soil which I have in the huge container, fruiting in about two months?

I mean the special substrate which is already mixed with the Parasols? Just to make a hole in the top soil in my huge container and to put into there your special substrate which is already mixed with the Parasols? I suppose, about 3 kilograms and fruiting in about two months?

Because this is a charity project, and because I am not any charity organization, I just am a person who is doing a good deed to support the beauties of plants, I can pay the total price up to £10 including the postage. (My budget is very narrow because I am going to add many more plants.) Or, I would appreciate if you can send it to me for free.

In return, I can place on my huge container a sign where will be written something like this (or suggest your text):

You can order these beautiful mushrooms or/and many other mushrooms on the website above!

If you do not have the power to make the decision, please, forward this email to the owner /  director / manager of your business. Many thanks!

If you cannot provide the one, please, can you send me a link to a web page where they can sell the one what I am looking for? Many thanks!

Many thanks for your reply

London, Balham”

Behold the glory of the container. Is this not a triumph of naïve optimism?

Am I feeling a little guilty about gently mocking this person’s efforts, worried they may read this post? Well, yes but as he or she clearly never read the content of the first post that led them to contact me, the chances of them reading this one seem remote.

25 thoughts on “A latter day Don Quixote

  1. Debra Tanfield

    I appreciated you answering my magnolia honey tulip question after I completed as much research as I could. However, I do support your use of the delete button.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Don’t take my comments personally! I do answer a lot but some enquiries are so wide-ranging or look as though they will spawn a whole heap of follow-up questions in future emails, or ask for information that I know is readily available on line – those, I do not feel so obligated to reply.

  2. Paul

    Peter Sellers did a fake travelogue in which he extolled the beauty of “Balham, Gateway to the South”. Could this be that gateway?

  3. robynkiltygardensnz

    I have been through Balham in South London many times on the train between London and Dulwich where my son and his family live. South London is home to many different ethnic groups, so this person could be well meaning, but of a completely different culture who does not necessarily understand about plants the way we do in New Zealand.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I don’t think this person knew I was in NZ, Robyn, but there was a certain naive enthusiasm – which is what reminded me of The Man from La Mancha musical and which I found moderately engaging.

  4. Elizabeth Hamilton

    Until last year(of covid fame) I went frequently to the Waitrose supermarket in ’Balham (gateway to the south, home of toothbrush holesmanship) without witnessing any of these remarkably well accommodated trees but always with the words of the comedians (whose names have temporarily deserted me) ringing in my ears.
    Perhaps it was Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Apologies for digression.
    Elizabeth Hamilton. Dedicated follower.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Peter Sellers, I believe. According to another commenter. I did wonder if I had any readers who know Balham. What a joy to find I have a dedicated follower who knows it well.

  5. Lisa P

    Abbie you’re so bad 🍄! Oh to be the owner of a planter box outside a library…

  6. Lisa P

    At least it appears that someone has donated their discarded Christmas tree to the cause.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Ah, now that is a whole other topic. Our second daughter spent four years working in London and briefly kept a blog. I have never forgotten her series of photos entitled “Christmas is over in Maida Vale” – photographed a couple of days after the 25th when all the trees were put out for green waste collection. A few years later, I was there in the lead up to Christmas and the markets were full of splendid, bushy Abies nordmanniana, severed in their prime (from Scotland and maybe Scandinavia) to be sold in London markets to adorn the front windows for two short weeks. No cheapskate, quick growing Pinus radiata there. Though a dear friend in London did declare a year or two ago that she had bought a living Christmas tree, as I recall.

      1. Lisa P

        I can imagine the streets would smell heavenly lined with discarded Christmas pine, even if they were destined for the scrap heap. My neighbour tried to dump their Christmas tree in my tecoma hedge, thinking that I wouldn’t notice! I’ve never been one to dabble in having a real tree, my plastic Christmas tree from The Warehouse had to suffice for my children. Last year though I had early divine Christmas inspiration, now what I did was grow Cypress Vine (Ipomoea quamoclit) up a large spiral topiary frame, the red star shaped flowers were wonderful and oh so Christmassy, and best of all, it is still in place and ready for Christmas this year!

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Plentiful. Somewhat dominated by magic mushrooms but their season is over now and, mercifully, with the advent of hallucinogenics in pill form, the desire to illegally harvest fungi seems to have died a natural death.

      1. Lisa P

        My friend had her large hallucinogenic San Pedro cactus stolen just recently! I’ll never forget going for an Autumnal stroll a few years ago in Auckland’s Cornwall Park and having to navigate through gaggles of people (young and old) scouring for magic mushrooms, in the middle of the day no less! It has been so dry that I haven’t had any visible fungi in my garden this year so far. I’m still getting the hose out to water, thankfully its better than lugging buckets of water around.

  7. Paddy Tobin

    I would have stopped reading at the “Congratulation!” – a single congratulation, not congratulations.

  8. tonytomeo

    Now, that is just . . . weird, even besides the picture. I mean, it sounds like someone wants to sound like an expert, but believes that the parasol mushrooms are some sort of fruit tree or fruit producing plant. (I doubt this person is referring to sporulation.) It also sounds like this person did not speak English as his or her first language, even though he or she is in London. I get these on rare occasion, but nothing as weird as this. Mine are more like star jasmine with blue flowers. Although, a colleague got a request for seed for the type of redwood that grows up with a tunnel through it.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Well yes, I did think the writer was not using their first language but that is not surprisingly in multinational London. (What was the star jasmine with blue flowers? Or was this just one of those ‘does it come in other colours’ enquiries?)

      1. tonytomeo

        Star jasmine blooms only in white. No one asked if it could bloom in other colors, but asked for and expected to get it in blue. It is an old joke with my colleague and me. This was not long before the Los Angeles Times featured an article about star jasmine, which described all the colors it comes in. I demonstrated how qualified other garden columnists were for the job.

      2. tonytomeo

        Oh my! Maybe the customer meant to ask if there were other cultivars with other colors; like maybe the customer was asking about Camellia japonica, but not the specific cultivar.

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