October 17, 2010

Drowning in Pansies


I am.  Drowning in Pansies.  I played hooky for a couple of hours this afternoon* and slammed some pansies into various pots and like receptacles.   I love pansies, and it’s not to be thought of that I don’t have lots, and the invention and promulgation of winter flowering pansies** were a great contribution to human felicity.   But lots is a mutable concept when applied to an acreage better measured in micrometers.  And every year autumn*** plant ordering gets done even more at the last minute while I’m thinking about several something elses than it was last year.†

            I usually remember pansies however.  I remembered them this year.  I remembered that I hadn’t ordered them yet as the usual catalogues came rolling in offering you 36,000 pansies with another 8000 free.††  Cognitive dissonance alert.  Gardens are getting smaller.  More houses are going up = less space for gardens. The gardening magazines have mostly caught on to this:  there are usually a few fantasy-garden articles and photo-visits to Stourhead and Stowe and so on, but most of them knuckle down to the reality of how to grow cabbages on your windowsill and roses on your doorstep without the Royal Mail bringing suit for assault and battery.  Mail-order nurseries seem to be going the other way.  Fourteen million something or others!  And another mumblety-jumble free!†††

            So I let all the offers of 36,800 pansies pass me by.  And then I started getting nervous.  My extremely gallant and stalwart summer pansies were stuttering to an end and I want some little fresh green pansy-leaf mounds promising me there will be more pansies some day. 

            And I lost my nerve.  About a fortnight ago.  I was watching all the fourteen-million offers of specific named pansies that I want, just not fourteen million of them, sell out.  I decided . . . oh, maybe I could do them in tiers or something.  And I found a couple of obscure nurseries that were selling them in mere hundreds rather than gigabillions.  It was still more pansies of fewer kinds than I wanted, but it was better than no pansies. . . .

            Literally the day after I ordered my, as I thought, last-minute winter-cough-cough-flowering pansies . . . the first of the big well-known standard mail order nurseries sent me a FABULOUS AUTUMN SALE email . . . which included pansies.  Things like sixteen pansies of one sort.  Or twenty four pansies.  And thereupon was a weeping and a wailing about the land, or at least a particular cottage and Third House.  Especially when all the other big mail order nurseries followed suit within another day or two.

            I ordered more pansies.  Well, of course.  And the big companies tend to be faster off the mark than the little companies, so there was a memorable day last week when I came home from hurtling hounds to find a Leaning Tower of Pansies propped against my front door.  I’m glad I didn’t have to face the laughing deliveryperson.  I had to tie up hellhounds at the foot of the stair, there wasn’t room for all of us. . . .

            Anyone in the neighbourhood, drop by for a cup of tea and a few pansies. 

* * *

* Very much uneasily in the front of my mind that my Sunday afternoons are about to disappear in a puff of Octopus and Chandelier for four months, starting—eeep—in three weeks.  Speaking of the O and the C, I mentioned this medium-sized foothill in the Himalayas of music theatre to somebody else and they had heard of it too.^  And had also not heard of Che Faro.  This keeps happening.  I’m going to get a complex here in a minute.  Che Faro Senza Eurydice?  Possibly the most famous mezzo aria in the entire frelling repertoire?^^  And which I am going to be singing for Oisin next Friday.^^^  How can you not have heard of it?  I’m not asking you to know what it’s about, or even what opera it’s from.  Or even that it’s from an opera.  ‘Opera’, after all, is a term of reproach and reprehensibility in some uncouth circles.  But if someone says to you ‘Che Faro Senza Eurydice’ you should say oh yeah, and start humming.  Like Halley did when I said O&C. 

             Not having heard of Che Faro is like not having heard of WG Grace.^^^^  Shameful.  No civilised person, etc etc.^^^^^

^ Some heretic who reads my blog and fancies herself a friend of mine emailed asking if Halley had really burst into a selection of O&C highlights.  Yes, devils seize it.  He did.  But any chastening effect this might have had on me was entirely negated by the discovery that he does not like Stephen Sondheim.  For this he shall be killed—er—never allowed to darken this door again—er—well, I don’t have to care he knows the songs I’m going to be laboriously learning over the next four months.   Feh.  At least it’s not Stephen Sondheim, who is hard.  In another life—a life in which I had both a voice and a confident, extrovert personality—I would have been happy to turn a few rivals into meat pies for the opportunity to sing Mrs Lovett.  

^^ Yes, I know it has some competition.  Dido’s Lament.  The Habanera.  Possibly Voi che sapete.  Or even Stride la vampa.  Don’t you automatically want to sing something called Stride la vampa?  It’s almost as good as it sounds—it’s a mad gypsy talking about her mum being burnt at the stake in front of a slavering crowd.  Grand opera.  Love it.  

^^^ If I Want to Make Myself Do Something, Mention It on the Blog.+ 

+ Looking up travel opportunities for Goa now.  Blondviolinist has suggested that the hellhounds won’t like Goa.  They’ll like Goa better than I’m going to like New Arcadia next Friday.  

^^^^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._G._Grace 

^^^^^ This is a trick question.  You may laugh now.  I wouldn’t have had a clue who WG Grace was before I moved over here.  I only have a clue now because if you live in England it’s hard not to be at least dimly aware that there is a Most Famous Cricketer of All Time, and then all I have to do is ask Peter who it is.  I don’t do sports, especially not ball sports.  I barely know who Babe Ruth is.  I only know Joe DiMaggio because of Simon and Garfunkel.

** Despite the fact that they mostly don’t flower in the winter, bar the occasional small confused bloom.  But they get going pretty impressively early in the spring, and they’re like daffodils:  they lie down in a frost, and then pop upright again as soon as the temperature lets them.  This being southern England I’ve never had to find out how long they can stay lying down before they won’t pop up again.  

*** I will be saying the exact same thing about spring ordering in a few months. 

† This frequently includes having forgotten that in fact I did already do most of the ordering and only had a few things left to search for.  Oops.  I do that with tulips every dranglefabbing year. 

            Usually I also do it with crocuses.  So this year I was determined not to do it with crocuses.  And I haven’t.  I have too few crocuses.  I’m now going to have to go to the garden centre and buy crocuses at garden-centre prices and from garden-centre selections.  Sigh. 

†† I have never understood the ‘and another 800 free’ business.  Sometimes it’s if you order by x date.  But usually it’s just AND ANOTHER 800 FREE!!!!  Why isn’t it just 36,800 pansies in the first place?  It’s still more than I want.  I want, you know, twelve.  And then I want another twelve of some other kind of pansy.  

††† Are they pink?  Okay.  Fine.  I’m sure I can fit them in somewhere.


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