Summer, gardening, blood and leg warmers
Summer arrived like a brick to the head two days ago. WHAM. It is now SUMMER. We have SUNLIGHT.* We have HOT. Don’t we frelling ever have hot. The temperature went from borderline frostbite to borderline heatstroke in about eighteen hours. Hellhounds are cross. I’m cross.** The garden says, Whooooa, finally, and is rushing out pretty much visibly. It (or they) also say: WATER. WATER ME. WATER ME NOW. WATER ME AGAIN. WATER ME MORE.*** It’s been such a peculiar year, with a mild winter and then suddenly weeks of frost and then no rain for weeks and then nothing but rain for weeks . . . punctuated by the occasional decorative little further frost how charming. This year’s geraniums, for example, which usually get on with it with great dispatch, have done nothing, and a lot of my annuals have done so poorly I’ve gone so far as to reorder some of them.† Meanwhile, even in a garden the size of mine at the cottage there are areas that are working and areas that have clearly gone over to the dark side.†† Most of the edges at the moment look rather pleasing††† but the centre is . . . the sort of place you need Flowerhair and Doomblade‡ to cut you a swathe through first. Rules to live by: I don’t care how hot it is, do not garden in shorts in a very small garden that is TOO FULL of roses. The phrase ‘bleeding from every pore’ occurs to me here. OWWWWW.‡‡
Which totally explains why I finally finished sewing up my first pair of leg warmers a couple of nights ago, pretty much simultaneously with the temperature soaring like a . . . raptor on an updraft.‡‡‡ I FINISHED SOMETHING! I HAVE FINISHED MY FIRST KNITTING PROJECT! YAAAAAAAAAAY! —And we’re not going to get into the ‘leg warmers? You know it’s summer, don’t you?’ thing, are we? Hey. In the first place . . . And your point would be? In the second place, anyone who knits knows that things take time, and autumn is coming, and I need at least two pairs by September. In the third place . . . I get these people saying things like, oh, I’m sure you’re ready to tackle something more challenging, you should knit a cardigan. Actually, since you ask, I am knitting a cardigan.§ But I am not going to carry a cardigan around with me, and leg warmers are small and fit into even a small, discreet knapsack. Some people knit socks. Some people knit leg warmers.
And I want you to know that it is only my extreme sense of blog duty that compelled me to put LEG WARMERS ON IN THIS WEATHER. Not to mention ripping a couple of the afternoon’s fresh scabs off in the process. Arrgh.
* Gosh. Sunlight.
** But then I’m always cross. Hellhounds are mostly not cross.
*** A bit like robins and mealworms. And the first nest produced at least two fledglings who have grown to full size (although they’re still stripey: stripey is good, though, the moment they show any red their parents will revert to territorial little despots, and run them off) because two of them were in the courtyard yesterday having adolescent tantrums at the kitchen door because the Mealworm Lady owes them. I don’t know why it’s so funny—or at least I find it funny—seeing adolescents acting like nestlings. From their perspective, they learnt that this is the behaviour that got them fed when they were babies, why shouldn’t they go on using something that works? Although if they’re doing it at me, it may mean that dad is now fully occupied with the Second Nest, and it’s not working so well any more. Wherever the Second Nest is. Hmmph. My nose is out of joint too.
† In the hope that this will inspire the current tenants to pull themselves together and thrive. Best trick of the season is that I have one snapdragon that came through this winter outdoors. Snapdragons, while tender, hate being indoors, either the indoor jungle thing at the cottage, or the green/summer/house/shed at Third House. This one is on the shelf in front of the kitchen window at the cottage where it should be getting a fair amount of heat leakage and it’s tucked in behind one of my you-don’t-mean-you’re-growing-that-in-a-pot roses^ which is probably as effective as bubble wrap. Whatever. It survived. And it’s blooming, the gallant thing. Pink. Yaaaay.
^ Phyllis Bide. http://www.davidaustinroses.com/english/showrose.asp?showr=685 She really likes her pot. She was more modest and tactful growing up a pillar at the old house.
†† And Third House . . . . aaaaaaaugh. AAAAAAAUGH.
I have limited time for gardening because I have a novel to finish. So that I can have more backlist in the attic.
††† Because I’m seriously potbound in the cottage garden anyway I’ve indulged myself in a few of the acid-lovers I can only grow in pots—camellias, for example, and little rhododendrons/azaleas^, and while I probably shouldn’t say this out loud at the moment I have several live meconopsis^^—and my latest insanity is little Japanese maples.^^^ I’ve had one since I moved into the cottage but they’ve become fashionable so I keep seeing them everywhere and I already had a tendresse, not to say weakness. I bought two tiny fronds of things this winter#, and they’re now busy putting out leaves and becoming tiny ebullient fronds of things. One of them has deeply cut dark red leaves and is beautiful and elegant . . . and the other one has hot pink young leaves with an emerald green edge and is about the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life.
^ But don’t tell Peter, because he hates them.
^^ Blue Himalayan poppy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meconopsis They are amazing in person. They are also a mega-mega-mega sod to grow.
^^^ There is a rumour they don’t need acid soil. I suppose if I’m going to start collecting the frellers I should find out.
‡ ::MAJOR SELF-REFLEXIVE ALERT::
‡‡ This is not assisted by frelling Chaos coming out and looking at me interestedly every time I make an unseemly noise. It’s so hot the kitchen door is open, of course, but the courtyard is full of little green things in process during a gardening afternoon, and hellhounds are extremely de trop.
‡‡‡ There are probably important boundaries about self-reflexivity. So you don’t fall up your own fundament.
§ Give me a minute. I’m not going to tell you everything all at once.
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