Times 28899 – gardener’s world.

Some inspired work here from our setter, misdirecting me several times and delaying what at first I thought would be a walk in the park. Devious definitions I liked were “one visiting stops” and “a measure of what attracts”. I don’t have a time for it as I was interrupted to do things.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

1 Unfair attempt to limit travel time on vacation (7)
BIGOTED – BID (attempt) with GO (travel) then TE (T[im]E) inserted.
5 Calendar gals stripped (one not in the buff) (7)
ALMANAC – [g]AL[s], MANIAC (buff, fanatic) with I removed.
9 Fragments taken from street of a trailer (9)
10 Sophisticated small drone close to plane (5)
SUAVE – S[mall], UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), [plan]E.
11 Sinister body regulating ads in the City (5)
LHASA – LH (left hand, sinister not dexter), ASA (Advertising Standards Authority). Took me an age to stop looking for a ‘sinister’ synonym using NY or LA.
12 Plant that’s difficult gardener is going to put in fine soil, initially (9)
AMARYLLIS – MARY’LL (the gardener is going to), is put inside AI (A1, fine) S[oil]. But what is the ‘difficult’ doing? Amaryllis is an easy plant to grow, ours has been sticking up enormous stems and red blooms regularly for years.
13 Retire due to ill health, maybe eventually like one’s teacher? (4,2,4,3)
TAKE TO ONES BED – TAKE TO (like eventually), ONE’S BED (one’s Bachelor of Education so teacher).
17 Director finished with lists completely (4,4,5)
HEAD OVER HEELS – HEAD (director), OVER (finished) HEELS (lists).
21 A sign radio programme has not ended (3,6)
THE ARCHER – the Zodiac sign Sagittarius; The Archers being a long running (still going, since 1951) radio soap on BBC4.
24 Without question a difficulty pulling back loose garment (5)
BURQA – A RUB = a difficulty, reverse and insert Q for question.
25 Parade a symbol of victory that is not shown on BBC (5)
VAUNT – V for victory, AUNT[ie] = BBC without I.E.
26 Decline to show hesitation, becoming vocal patriot? (4-5)
FLAG-WAVER – FLAG = decline, WAVER = show hesitation. I don’t see why we have ‘vocal’, flag-waving is visual and not necessarily noisy?
27 Like the clappers are striking: without end? (7)
RAPIDLY – if they RAP IDLY are they striking, with no particular objective so without end?
28 Fear led to shift supporting Union (7)
1 Happen to note there’s a ringer going about! (6)
BEFALL – FA (a note) has BELL around it.
2 Fish, good variety of tuna, given to a huge glutton (9)
GARGANTUA – GAR (a kind of fish), G[ood], (TUNA)*, A.
3 Bird heading away from its last animal sanctuary (7)
TITLARK – TITL[e] = heading losing its last letter; ARK the animal sanctuary.
4 Take apart books in pitiful English (9)
DISMANTLE – DISMAL (pitiful) with NT (books) inside, E.
5 Porter perhaps cross, meeting a smart home help (5)
ALEXA – ALE (porter, beer), X (cross), A. She’s in three rooms in our house, but not always helpful.‘I’m sorry, I don’t know that’.
6 Confuse A&E maybe, with obscure case of pinkeye (7)
MISTYPE – MISTY (obscure), P[inkey]E.
7 Irish male eleven finally getting score draw? (5)
NIALL – [eleve]N, I ALL (one all, a score draw).
8 A contemptuous person roughly upended lover in play (8)
CRESSIDA – All reversed; A, DISSER, C (roughly, approx.).
14 Spouse exercising for health (5,4)
15 One visiting stops at first by delta in Mississippi maybe (3,6)
BUS DRIVER – B[y], US RIVER with D[elta] inserted.
16 Wife loathing extremely short, dismissive remark (8)
WHATEVER – W[ife], HATE, VER[y].
18 A measure of what attracts concertgoers — tedious shows! (7)
OERSTED – hidden as above; CGS unit of magnetic field strength.
19 Gave way after reply, periodically getting jostled (7)
ELBOWED – [r]E[p]L[y], BOWED = gave way.
20 Hardy perennial, this? Yes and no (6)
LAUREL – Well, Laurel and Hardy were a long running double act, but not exactly perennial, and Laurel is a hardy perennial shrub. Or something to that effect.
22 Something cracked, holding up energy supply (5)
EQUIP – E (energy), QUIP (something cracked).
23 Big, strong guy with paper hanky’s last (5)
HEFTY – HE (a guy) FT (the paper) [hank]Y. I had HUNKY pencilled in for a while until I was failing to solve 26a, a re-think got to FLAG-WAVER and a new look at this one.


69 comments on “Times 28899 – gardener’s world.”

  1. I found this very hard and needed 65 minutes to complete the grid. Very few answers jumped out at me so they had to be squeezed out gradually from wordplay.

    As things turned out, the only answer unknown to me was OERSTED but I eventually spotted the hidden indicator and wrote it in with some confidence.

    ‘Fragments taken from’ was as devious an anagrind as I’ve seen in a long time.

    BURQA with a Q not a K took some avoiding.

    QUIP as ‘something cracked’ was devious too, since I doubt anyone has ever spoken of ‘cracking a quip’ and one has to do a sort of 3-point turn to understand it. It didn’t help that I couldn’t get ‘cracking the whip’ out of my mind or ‘cracking eggs’ although clearly neither had anything to do with the answer.

    My horticultural knowledge is almost zero, but I googled AMARYLLIS / difficult and came up with this: ‘The ‘true’ amaryllis is a very fine cold greenhouse plant. Hippeastrums are not hardy and will not stand frost. They like to be warm and low temperature is one reason they can be a ‘difficult’ houseplant. In addition light levels in the home are usually low’. But ‘difficult’ still seems an odd choice of word if the setter’s intention was to narrow the definition down a little from simply ‘plant’.

    I took the definition of FLAG-WAVER as figurative. SOED has it as ‘a chauvinist, a political agitator’, and I guess it would be difficult to be one of those without being vocal.

  2. I moseyed thru this with multiple distractions, like our blogger, starting somewhat randomly with OERSTED and winding up in LHASA. Favorite here was BUS DRIVER. I had the same thought as Jackkt about the anagrind for FORETASTE.

    MARY is “difficult” because she’s “quite contrary,” haven’t you heard?

    1. But it’s “plant that’s difficult”; I wonder if this was a typo for ‘plant that difficult’.

    2. Yes, I can see now what difficult is doing but isn’t that reading screwed up by the apostrophe S?

      1. I read it eventually as ‘plant that is (difficult gardener is going to) put in fine soil initially’.

        1. Yes, we sometimes get clues that have to be read like that for wordplay, but doing so in this instance makes a nonsense of the surface. Kevin’s suggested amendment would have been far better, or just leaving out the second word entirely.

          1. It doesn’t make a nonsense of the surface: it just has a different grammatical construction from the wordplay, which is fine.
            As RobR says the wordplay is AMARYLLIS [plant], which is [that’s] MARYLL [difficult gardener’s going to] inserted into [put in] AIS [fine, soil initially].

                1. “Mary, Mary, quite contrary
                  How does your garden grow?”

                  Just to spell out what Guy was referring to..

                  A very satisfying puzzle. Thanks setter and Pip.

                  1. Oh I’ve just read down further and seen that Mary Turner (who should know of course) has said the same thing.

  3. “Mary, Mary quite contrary,
    How does your garden grow ?”
    Heard that often as a child when being “difficult” !

  4. I found this very hard taking 33:57, but clever.
    LOI was LAUREL which took an alphabet trawl and I got to L and went, ‘aha!’
    UAV being a drone was new to me
    Thanks for the explanation for AMARYLLIS which I didn’t get at all!
    Thanks to setter and blogger

  5. Just impossible for me to get a foothold in beyond ALEXA and OTHER HALF. I even had ALMANAC but took it out because I couldn’t parse ‘manac’ and still wouldn’t even now I know it. Even with the blog a significant number of the answers are beyond me. Congrats to all finishers but the kind of puzzle that leaves me for dead and utterly uninspired to retry.

  6. 31:33, giving me one of the poorest WITCHES so far. I bitched a bunch, because I didn’t know UAV, DNK ASA, DNK TITLARK, had forgotten OERSTED, barely knew (and didn’t like) ALEXA. BEFALL took me forever to justify. LOI was LAUREL; finally thought of it, thought ‘Of course!’ and submitted, but then wondered how the clue worked; was Stan a Hardy perennial? No problem with FLAG-WAVER. I liked this, tough as it was. Especially liked FORETASTE (what Jack said) and ALMANAC.

  7. Really liked this crossword, some very clever clues. Loved the attracting measure and the stop visitor. And isn’t 14dn a very neat clue?
    No unknowns today bar the UAV.

  8. Amazingly, I’m here all present and correct in 42 minutes, with BURQA spelt like that and with only AMARYLLIS unparsed, although I had no idea what UAV stood for. LOI was LAUREL getting me out of another fine mess. It was a big help that my first year degree Physics back in 1964 was in cgs so OERSTED was known. The equations were uglier once we moved to mks. We have both an Alexa and a Siri, which does lead to misunderstandings. Soundbite today, Don Gibson singing Head over Heels in love with you. COD to THE ARCHER. Difficult but highly enjoyable. Thank you Pip and setter.

  9. Super crossword, with some wonderful clues: AMARYLLIS particularly.

    Stopped after 28′, with 8′ on failing to get LAUREL.

    The other day, I shouted at ALEXA to stop the music, me getting louder and louder until I realised it was the iPad/Bluetooth playing.

    Thanks pip and setter.

  10. I found this extremely hard and DNF – gave up on the hour and hit reveal to find the culprit was LAUREL which I still don’t really get. In fact there are a few in that category but I nevertheless enjoyed this beast. It took me ages to get anything at all, my FOI was 16dn WHATEVER and even then I was hesitant. Is a disser a contemptuous person? I thought it was somebody who dissed someone else, perhaps with good reason. Sterling work from Nelson, I didn’t even know there WAS an anagram at FORETASTE and had no idea about LHASA. Or UAV. Or the plant where I resorted to the check function. Never mind, a stunningly devious and well-crafted puzzle but not for the faint-hearted.

  11. I needed to correct “mistake” (quite apposite really) before I could nail my LOI. I love gardens, but loathe gardening. I thought this was quite quirky, and spent a little while expecting a pangram, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    TIME 10:51

    I’m using my tablet due to my phone needing a battery replacement, so I’ll be back to appearing as BUSMAN shortly.

  12. 18:38. Super crossword. I liked BEFALL, OTHER HALF, BUS DRIVER and OERSTED in particular. LOI LAUREL gave a nice PDM too. Thanks Pip and setter.

  13. 29:54 but with BURKA instead of BURQA

    I meant to revisit it honest guv. I lobbed it in and thought I’d go back to it later but the temptation to hit submit without checking answers is all too tempting for me.

    An enjoyable test and the blog was most definitely needed today so thanks to both.

  14. 99 minutes. Oh, dear. Sorry for mucking up the SNITCH, at least until I’m dumped as one of the reference solvers in the top 100 times. I found this v. hard and just couldn’t get going. I did think of abandoning ship but plodded on until I was faced with S_A_E at the end. It was some consolation that I could work out what the UAV stood for in ‘drone’ but I didn’t get the usual sense of satisfaction when all the squares turned up green. Well done to everyone who beat their usual time, but not me today.

    1. Thank you; you’ve cheered me up no end to be not entirely alone . I too was slowly away and, as I’d never trouble the leaders, settled down to parse the lot. I too spent an age with UAV, and it too left me feeling less than satisfied even when I got there. Aerial or airborne? I don’t really care; I prefer my Unwarranted Abbreviated Vacuity. We could buy a dictionary of them, but there isn’t a known bookcase that would hold it.
      Console yourself with ever so slightly less lead in the saddle tomorrow !

  15. A black run that I completed without broken bones – on wavelength with a WITCH of 83 and a time under 40 minutes. A fun ride with plenty of moguls along the way (the plant and the calendar were biffs and reverse-engineered). LOI LAUREL, like many others here, complete with forehead slap at the PDM. I have no problem with the AMARYLLIS clue: it’s normal to have a linking word that introduces the cryptic or the literal (gives, shows, from or, in this case, is).

  16. Just over the half hour, with LOI LAUREL – which in retrospect is ridiculous. Other clues were much tougher. I think it was because I was looking for an antonym of HARDY. Some lovely clues, not all of which I understood when I put the answer in. Many thanks to all.

  17. About half an hour.

    Didn’t parse AMARYLLIS; missed the ‘eventually like’=’take to’ part of TAKE TO ONE’S BED; biffed RAPIDLY from the checkers with no idea how it worked; and didn’t quite parse BUS DRIVER.

    A tough but fun puzzle. Thanks setter and blogger.

    FOI Befall
    LOI Amaryllis
    COD Titlark

  18. 42:18

    Really enjoyed this though there were several answers I couldn’t parse – AMARYLLIS thought of early on with the second A plus L checkers, still didn’t get it when eventually fully typed in. Not keen on the ‘fragments’ anagram indicator. on the whole, bottom half much friendlier than the top.

    Thanks P and setter

  19. 16:52. The bottom half went in quite quickly, the top half took forever. I was badly stuck for a good 5 minutes. I thought this was excellent, the intricate wordplay for AMARYLLIS is a masterpiece.

  20. 17:57

    Difficult but most enjoyable. I couldn’t fully parse either AMARYLLIS or TITLARK so thanks for those.

  21. 22:40
    Good to see some newish expressions turning up: UAV, ALEXA, even WHATEVER. It can only be a matter of time before we see “whevs” (or “apols”, which I heard a usually neologism-denying DJ say at the weekend).
    LOL LAUREL – I always point out to growers of baytrees that “They’re not hardy, you know”.

  22. Greatly enjoyed this – ultimately undone by LAUREL, having convinced myself I was looking for an unknown Thomas Hardy character. I don’t know much about plants, so while I’ve certainly heard of LAUREL, ‘perennial’ was of no real assistance.

    Thanks both.

  23. Be thou my vision
    “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?” Very nearly true for this beautiful beast, feeling at times way above my pay grade. 27.26, almost grinding to a halt with the last trio in the SW corner. What can be cracked? Clue maybe? There’s a E and a U available. What are clappers like? Ringing perhaps? What’s not on the BBC? Test cricket, more’s the pity.
    Much to like, much to curse the admirable setter for.
    My earworm (see title) is prompted by the leftmost column in reverse order, one of the great hymns if in its original form metrically challenged and an organist’s nightmare.

    1. O well spotted! One of my favourites too – I love the Van Morrison version.

      Do you play it in both triple time and common time?

      1. Sadly I don’t play, but have experience of many organists, some of the “you can negotiate with a terrorist” variety. But as a singer, plenty of experience of trying to fit the words to the tune, sometimes in direct competition with what’s being played!

  24. Around 3 hours. Determined to get it out. Top right hand corner and left hand bottom gave the greatest problems. Filled in so many from the crossing letters without any great feel for correctness. Got WHATEVER from crossing letters but no idea of its relationship to the clue. Still have large problems with literal reading of parts of clues eg read “one not in buff” as read so no idea if ALMANAC correct.
    CRESSIDA becomes an archetype of a faithless lover and I interpreted this as implying a contemptuous person.
    I must thank Piquet for his parsing. I hope at least some sinks in and helps me improve..

  25. 28 mins but entered LOI SUAVE more in hope than expectation. Still don’t quite get how the LAUREL clue works. Many tx for the help in unravelling AMARYLLIS above. Very tortuous!

    1. Hardy perennial? = yes.
      Laurel = Hardy? = No.
      It does work, or at least it was close enough for me.

      I see someone called Quartermaine was a Saturday cryptic winner last week. Any relation?!

  26. DNF. Solving on my phone I did not realise that I had not DONE 20d, LAUREL. I might have failed to find it in any event. Also failed to parse AMRYLLIS.

  27. DNF – too crafty for me and I doubt I would have finished the NE corner even if I hadn’t persisted with MISTAKE until the bitter end. All easy in retrospect – always the mark of a good puzzle.

  28. 41:04
    My head hurts after that. Completed with some cursing but eventually with grudging respect for the deviousness of it all.


    Thanks to Pip and the setter.

  29. Some quite hard (for me, anyway) stuff here in a very good crossword now that I have had things explained. One or two put in without a lot of confidence: I still can’t understand “becoming vocal” in 26ac; I couldn’t see why Mary was a gardener; ALMANAC was a mystery, as was 27dn. But all entered correctly, with some misgivings, in 59 minutes.

    1. If you put the decline together with the showing hesitation, it becomes a vocal patriot…
      No great fan of patriots myself: “Patriot: someone who believes a country is great, because he happened to be born there” (Devil’s Dictionary)

      1. Indeed. The term I prefer is ‘flag-s****er’ but that’s a bit rude for this forum.
        See Collins: ‘an enthusiastic, demonstrative patriot’.

  30. Whie I was still trying to find a way into this puzzle, I put a tentative unparsed VAULT into 25a and forgot to review it. 40 minutes later having solved everything else and even parsed the contrary AMARYLLIS, I submitted and got the inevitable pink square. Drat and double drat!!. 40:09, but WOE is me. Thanks setter and Pip.

  31. Just when i thought that I was getting a little better this one hit me back over an hour 61 mins. Pleased to see it was not just me.

  32. One of those where the cosmos aligns and allows me an average time on a difficult puzzle. Normally if SNITCH is much >100, I’m either double average time or DNF.

    Having said that, it was biff central round here, so many thanks to piquet for explaining TAKE TO ONE’S BED, AMARYLLIS, RAPIDLY and TITLARK. LOI was THE ARCHER (I am one I believe, being born in early December).


    1. Amusingly, the astrological community has failed to keep up with the precession of the heavens, and the Sun now passes through 13 constellations rather than 12. With a birthday in the first half of Dec, you’re technically an Ophiucan.

  33. 55’25”
    Dwelt badly, pulled up final furlong, then finished disgruntled ….

    … for the reason I gave to Bletchley Reject above. Otherwise a superb puzzle, although I still cannot fathom laurel.
    Thank you setter and Pip.

  34. Very difficult puzzle that strained my brain so much o fell asleep in the middle. The 10 minute map seemed to dislodge a few answers and the last ones then flew in but with absolutely no understanding of amaryllis and suave so many thanks for the explanations there.

    40minutes plus change. Thx p and setter

  35. I took a long time to get started and a long time to finish – just over an hour including interruptions. But I thought the clues were fair, my only minor bleat being the vocal flag-waver. No problem with AMARYLLIS. For me the bottom half was more difficult than the top half. But I enjoyed most of the clues.
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  36. Top more difficult than the bottom and I had 10 left before I started cheating but SUAVE was the FOI and I was already aware of what an UAV was, so no problems there.

  37. 56 mins of hard graft. Never comfortable but happy to get there at last. Just about to hit the sack prior to a 06.30 flight tomorrow so I’ll enjoy uncovering all the mysteries in the cluing then.

    Thanks setter for a very entertaining puzzle and blogger for explaining the answers.

  38. I thought this was quite fantastic, although it took me 50 minutes. It was full of brilliant and misleading clues with many unexpected references and common expressions used with meanings other than the ones one would ordinarily read into them. An example is “eventually like one’s teacher” meaning being not similar to, but instead, fond of one’s teacher. My favourite, though, was quite contrary Mary as the difficult gardener in AMARYLLIS. Only one point of contention: the vocal patriot in FLAG-WAVER, where I suspect the setter has really mixed up WAVER and WAIVER and which one is hesitating.

  39. It’s all been said. Hard to start, slow to finish, top half trickier, ‘fragments taken from’ was plain mean, UAV had to be guessed at, MANAC unparsed, and so on. A collective experience it seems. Fun though.

    Thanks Pip

  40. lots to like here – didn’t record a time but definitely over the hour. loved THE ARCHER and many other fantastic clueings. thanks all!

  41. 30 mins. Nice puzzle! But until I read the comments I didn’t understand the apostrophe in 12ac. Thanks for the explanation! As for waver/waiver, perhaps ‘vocal patriot’ is the definition (?)

  42. DNF

    Enjoyed the blog, but it confirmed what a poor puzzle this was. Glad I had to leave for the golf course.

    Thanks Piquet for your aptly questioning analysis.

  43. 45 or so

    Started v late so drifted off and completed today

    Loved the more modern references. I also do like an AMARYLLIS so inevitably that was one of my LOIs, and COD for the MARY’LL bit. Brilliant!


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