Sherlock Holmes was watering his window box when his friend Dr. Watson came round with some exciting news.

  “We’ve been invited to Professor Monsanto’s for the weekend.  He’s a keen horticulturalist.”

  “Does his wife know?” Holmes asked.

  “She approves.  Says a man should have a hobby.”

  “These modern women.”

  “He grows edible roses,” Watson continued.  “Has them for starters, main course and dessert.”

  “Whole meal flowers.  Sounds just the ticket.”

  “He just plants the bulbs and up they shoot.”

  “Self-raising flowers - even better.  Where does he live?”

  “He’s got a pile at Great Bottomly.”

   “You’ll be taking your black bag, then.”

  That evening at dinner their host expatiated on the effects of genetic modification.  By crossing a herb that induced contempt for the electorate with a nut that removed all sense of shame he’d created a concoction that made people behave like Cabinet Ministers.  Watson thought this was pure fantasy, but Holmes was beginning to think that there was nothing pure about their host.


  The following morning Watson found himself alone at breakfast.  Holmes had left a note.  It read Roses are red, violets are blue.  By the tree that’s mellow yellow I’ll look out for you.

  After breakfast Watson went out into the garden where the first thing to catch his eye was a Jersey Royal on a chaise-langue.  It was a couch potato.   And he had a strange feeling that a battered-looking vegetable was listening to him.  It was a cauliflower ear.  Then he spotted a curious-looking citrus tree and wondered aloud what it might be.

  “A lemon tree, my dear Watson,” said a familiar voice.

  “Holmes!” Watson exclaimed.  “But why the disguise?”

   “I believe,” Holmes explained, “that our host is not who he says he is and that he has an evil plan to replace politicians with mutant vegetables.”

  “Would anyone notice?”

  “Probably not.”

  “So the Prime Minister could be a giant turnip!”

   “Precisely,” Holmes agreed.

  “Or even a brassica.”

  “I doubt there’ll ever be greens in Parliament,” Holmes replied.

  Just then a figure emerged from among the beehives and, removing his protective head gear, revealed himself as none other than, “Professor Moriarty!”

   “Correct, Mr. Holmes,” the evil genius sneered.  “But fine words butter no parsnips, whatever that means.”

  “You’ll never get away with your wicked plan, whatever it is!” Watson cried.

  “On the contrary,” Moriarty replied, “I’ve already replaced half the Cabinet with runner beans.  The other half are has-beens.  Soon, the entire                   Government will be fit only for spreading on the flower beds.”

    But at that precise moment he was surrounded by a pack of Police dogs, closely followed by Inspector Lestrade.  They’d escaped from their compound and he was following a lead.

  “Arrest him!” Holmes yelled to Lestrade.

   “On what grounds, Mr. Holmes?”

  “The grounds of Great Bottomly,” said Watson.

  And so Moriarty was consigned to the compost heap of history.


  That evening as they shared a bottle of elderflower wine Watson asked Holmes what made him suspect that their host was, in fact, Professor Moriarty.

  “Well,” said Holmes, “it was partly the saucy laughter coming from the passion fruit behind the gazebo and partly the way the lilies winked at me as I passed.  But mainly it was something I found behind the garden shed,” – and here he produced a well-thumbed book - “Professor Moriarty’s Guide to   Garden Management and World Domination.”