View Full Version : So THAT'S what they get up to on the allotments!

03-04-2007, 11:23:44
Grow-your-own Viagra craze hits Britain's garden centres
By David Randall
Published: 01 April 2007

A chance discovery by a Berkshire allotment-holder that a plant widely available in garden centres has the same effect on men as Viagra has been confirmed by experts at one of the world's leading botanical institutions.

The plant is winter-flowering heather, and botanists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, many of them heather experts who have recognised the source of its active ingredient, now expect it to be the next must-have plant in British gardens. Demand is already high. Nurseries and garden centres in some areas are having trouble finding sufficient supplies as word spreads of the plant's unexpected properties.

A spokesman for Wyevale Garden Centres, which has 106 UK branches, said: "At first, it was just a trickle of inquiries, but now stores are virtually being besieged each weekend. We have had men buying dozens of the plants and, at one store in Croydon, there were men old enough to know better fighting over the last remaining trays."

The latest gardening craze was triggered by a discovery by a 55-year-old furniture restorer, Michael Ford, on his allotment. He was always experimenting with drinks made from different plants and one day he tried an infusion from his winter-flowering heather. He said: "The effect was almost immediate. I had to stay in my potting shed for an hour or so before I could decently walk down the street."

He then contacted the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, famous for their work with the heather family, to see if they could offer an explanation. They could. Botanist Alan Bennell said: "This first surfaced when East European chemists reported finding a Viagra-type chemical in the floral tissues of winter-flowering heaths. They were able to isolate measurable amounts of material that is an analogue of the active principle in Viagra."

Winter-flowering heather, he explained, belongs to the genus Erica, a close relative of our own native heather. He said: "As yet, the active ingredient has not been found in these British forms, but it is proving to be most concentrated in many of the widely available hybrids sold as winter-flowering heather in garden centres. Particularly potent are forms of Erica carnea, the Alpine heather, whose range extends into the Balkans.

"The work of these biochemists and physiologists - much of it disrupted and lost during the ravages of war - is now coming to light."

From the limited amount of information available, it is suggested the Viagra-analogue is best extracted by steeping the detached small flowers in neat alcohol. An infusion of about 20g of flowers in 100ml of fluid liberates the active principle. A quality full-strength vodka (at least 40 per cent) is also effective. Mr Bennell added: "There is some confusion whether oral consumption or topical application is more effective."

But not everyone is happy about this new discovery. One woman shopping at a Wyvales in Dorking yesterday said: "It's amazing. My husband has never shown any interest in gardening before, but now he's out there night and day fussing over his heathers. Frankly, I preferred it when he left the garden to me and wasn't so frisky."

:lol: :lol: :lol:

03-04-2007, 11:29:46
Other April Fool's in the papers...

Fooling around on Fleet Street
London is to share the 2012 Olympic games with its nearest rival Paris, according to a broadsheet newspaper.

And in more apparent madness, the Highways Agency is to spend 60m painting double yellow lines on the M6.

Yes, it's that time of year again.

Millions of people woke up on Sunday to the great yearly tradition on Fleet Street: the April Fool's Day joke.

The Daily Mail warns al fresco foodies that firing up the barbecue this summer could cost you 5 for "carbon offsets".

The paper reports that councils across the UK will appoint barbecue inspectors to enter private gardens to check whether any charcoal has been burned.

Offenders who have not pre-purchased their offsets could face a 50 fine.

Barbecue lover Ron Staines, of Kent, is quoted as saying: "I think it's disgraceful... I just don't believe I produce that much CO2, mainly because I usually can't get the thing alight."


The Sunday Telegraph reports that London could "farm out" some events in the 2012 Olympics to Paris, in order to keep costs down.

The Foreign Office has suggested having the opening ceremony in the Stade de France - because the French are "very good at fireworks" - and getting athletes to warm up on Eurostar trains.

The proposals are welcomed by the spokeswoman for the original Paris bid for the Olympics - a certain Avril Bouffoniere.

Meanwhile The People claims that double yellow lines will be painted in both directions of the 226-mile long M6 motorway.

Road chiefs will spend 60m and 12 weeks marking the hard shoulders with 16,000 gallons of yellow paint.

The work will reportedly begin next February, causing traffic chaos between Junction 1 near Rugby, Warwickshire, and Junction 44 near the Scottish border.

April Loof, a spokesman for the Drivers' Alliance fumed: "It's an outrageous waste of public money. The yellow lines will penalise people who desperately need the loo."

Prime Minister Tony Blair will turn to acting when he departs Downing Street, the Observer reckons.

He will appear on stage in Arthur Miller's The Crucible, at the request of the Hollywood star, Kevin Spacey.

There is also talk of guest appearances in an Only Fools and Horses Christmas Special and Doctor Who - as a prime minister who goes back in time to correct his past mistakes.

I saw the Daily Mail one in a coffee shop, starts off as a highly plausible Daily Mail rant...:D

Dyl Ulenspiegel
03-04-2007, 11:29:55
not bad :D

03-04-2007, 11:35:31
Erica and Heather :love:

03-04-2007, 11:37:09
topical appliation of an alcohol-based infusion...