An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

December 29, 2009

London Calling

I have been a bit of an anglophile since I was in the second grade. That was when one of my favorite teachers, Miss Schafer, fresh from her world travels introduced us to other countries. Although she superficially covered several nations, it was the U.K. that stuck with me. As I grew as a gardener, I came to appreciate the many contributions that the English gardening tradition made to the world of horticulture. In fact, my 40th birthday present to myself was a gardening tour of the Mother Country. Our first few days in England were centered in London, with most of our time spent at either the Hampton Court Flower Show, Kew Gardens or Wisely. Mind you I was thoroughly having a marvelous time, but regret that we did not get to see more of the city itself. It is a great hope of mine that one day when time, and particularly money permit, I will return.


According to an urgent email sent to everyone in my company's address book, I apparently went to London over the holidays, but am in a bit of a situation there. To solve this little problem, the message instructs people where to send $2000 dollars. Here, read a part of the note for yourselves:


Complement of the season. I am in London for an emergency trip but having little problem now. Please can you assist me with two thousand US dollars ($2.000) to enable me complete my activities here. I will pay you back as soon as I come back home. Send it through western union with this information:

(next the writer listed an address where to wire the money, but I will not post it here - in case any of you feel compelled to help out and are generous to a fault)


Despite a recently installed security system on the computer at work, someone was able to get our password and hijacked our mailing lists, and not only did they send the above note, they also erased the address book. Several of our vendors and customers called to alert us about the scam, and from the awkward way this note was written, I seriously doubt that anyone would fall victim to it.


Since the New Year is upon us, I suggest that we all celebrate with a full round of new passwords, for all of our accounts, especially if they have not been changed in some time. Please don't use your home addresses, phone numbers, pet's and children's names, the word "password" or anything else easily figured out by a determined no-goodnik. Make it a long mix of numbers and letters (both upper and lower case). It is also a good idea to make a list of your new passwords and conceal it someplace safe. Now if I can only remember where I hid that list.

(These non-restricted pictures were taken from the Library of Congress site which is a great resource for old photos and documents. These images of London were taken at the turn of the last century and used the photochrom process, which was an early way to turn black and white negatives into color photos.)


  1. Old pictures come thru ever so fast :-)
    And pretty wonderful they are too.
    Sorry about your pc burglary. Hope you can rectify it all soon.

  2. Good advice to change the passwords...I finally remember the new one I have been using! The list of ID's and passwords is so long already.
    Happy New Year to you and your family. Hope to get together again in the new year before we move.

  3. I love London too. I was fortunate to have visited twice in the past 9 years. Unfortunately, I did not get to view any of the gardens. I too, hope to have the funds to go back again someday. Thank you for the reminder to change our passwords. Now, I have to think of a new one :0)

  4. Thank you Les... good reminder to stay in touch with our systems, like backing them up, in addition to our blogs.

    Happy New Year to you and your family. May it be one of good health and much Joy! Diana

  5. If not piracy, then proliferating passwords will be our bane. Hoping for eye-print recognition asap.

    Happy New Year to you, with only good things in it.

  6. I studied aborad in Grantham, 2 hours or so north, in 1997 for one term. I like England. Esp for the pubs--and not the touristy ones, but the ones where people look at you funny the whole time you are there. Now that's insight into a culture. Real fish and chips.

    If you send me $2k, I will send you $2k. Deal? My new password for all my accounts is dfkh039y0972khdi7903. Whoops.

  7. Great post Les! I love the old photos of London. Thanks for the tip about changing passwords too. I hope someone with plenty of dough sends you a few biscuits! Best Wishes for the New Year! Carol

  8. What a bother! I remember when something similar happened to Frances.

  9. Imagine what the world would be if those people who spend all their time scheming and doing evil actually did good. It would be amazing. Sorry to hear you didn't get a fabulous, out of the blue, dream trip in over the holidays. When I first started reading that's where I thought you were headed. Darn!

  10. I believe the same thing happened to Frances at Fairegarden. I hate dealing with passwords. I know they are essential but such a nuisance. My dream is to go to England and see the great gardens.

  11. Geez, I'm a lost cause when it comes to logins and passwords and user ids. I'm toast. I try to be carefully but honestly have so many dang accounts that I can't keep them all straight - and now I've taken over my Father's finances, and so have a whole new series of passwords, etc etc. Fortunately my work stuff is under a federal firewall (in fact - it's kinda fun, because one of our IT guys is a closet hacker and so he knows when someone is pinging the servers and he can do obnoxious things back to them - which generally just involve something harmless that makes the person know that he's on to them!). Anyway - sorry about the loss of your address books (that is a big pain) and I am with you - I've never been to the UK myself, and I'd love, love, love to go and tour those gardens!!

  12. Bummer. These scammers hit Fairegarden Frances earlier this year. I second what Danger Garden said about them.

  13. Hi Les.

    Such a "Royal" pain (ahem).
    My laptop has been infected and hi-jacked over the holidays with a particularly nasty virus that is tied to Google. It will not enable be to launch any anti-malware programs and it totally removed my Norton anti-virus software. I have tried everything to remedy this, but to no avail. I completely feel your pain. I now get an audio-feed (of all things) sporadically playing in the background when I am working! Ahhh!!!

    I love London, went to college there for a number of years and paid Kew gardens many fun and informative visits.

    Hope you work all this out.

  14. Oh those dastardly hackers, Les! They got my password this summer while we were on vacation at the beach with a very similar message of being in England and needing money sent. It took a lot of frantic phone calls to MSN to get it straightened out since alert friends reported it as abuse right away. Believe me, the new passwords will never get figured out, but have special meaning to me so I can remember it. We do hope to go to England and see those gardens you mentioned one of these days. Have a wonderful new year and we look forward to the best gardens ever in the coming months! :-)

  15. Jo,
    I am glad you got to see the pictures this time. Sorry they were not taken by me. Be forewarned that the next one will be picture heavy.

    Happy New Year to you as well and yes we need to make a date.

    Yes it is fortunate that you could go twice. I am trying to think of a way to get work to pay for a "research" trip.

    Happy New Year to you as well.

    I am waiting to have the chip implanted under my skin. Happy New Year to you as well.

    I enjoyed several non touristy pub visits while I was there. The beer and ale were good, but I drank my weight in hard cider.

    I have always liked looking at old photos. Best wishes to you as well.

    Sweet Bay,
    It is a bother, but thankfully not for me, just for the people at work. I am on vacation!

    I wish I did get to go over the holidays, maybe one day.

    You should go. I hooked up with a tour sponsored by a hort. professor at Va. Tech. It was not that expensive and was a good mix of group time and free time. Plus it was good to go with someone so knowledgable.

    I feel for you trying to juggle all those accounts especially now that you are doing it for your dad as well.

    When people like this are caught, the courts should come up with some really onerous form of punishment.

    That sounds like an incredibly nasty virus. I hope you can expell it soon. I am jealous of your time in London and especially at Kew. What a marvelous place, except for the constant air craft flying over.

    I had forgoten that you too were a victim. Fortunately I did not have to go through what you did. I hope you have a wonderful New Year as well.


  16. Sorry to hear about the problem, Les. It is annoying to deal with the scammers and viruses, is it not? Still, the internet has given us so much and opened the world wide to us all. Here's to a new year: may we all be scam-free and blessed by the ether-universe.

  17. Yes, I remember connecting with you originally over England. I love this collection of old London postcards.

    Those internet scams are so irritating. How awful to lose your address book! Good tips on passwords. I hope your new year is less stressful.

  18. Happy New Year! I've enjoyed getting to know you through the blog this year. Sorry to hear about your computer problems. I have to call in the Geek Squad (my son) to take care of a nasty virus earlier this year.

    Meanwhile it looks like there are enough of us to make a garden tour. You can host and have your way paid!

  19. Susan,
    Yes the internet has changed things. When I think about what one had to do to look anything up prior to Googling, wow! It is almost worth having to put up with the occasional scammer. Happy New Year to you as well.

    I was smitten with the cards as well. The Library of Congress has a Flickr site and last week they uploaded more photochrom pictures from the trun of the last century, and these were mainly scenes from mosques and bazaars in the Middle East. Thank your for your stress free wishes, but I am already there.

    It seems to depend upon the topic.

    Likewise! I'll let you know when the trip dates are set. Happy New Year to you as well.