May 23, 2014

Shadows is here!

Summer is icumen in, continued*

 

 

I had planned to post more photos today.  Stuff is rioting out**, most of it several weeks early.  I’ve got a sheaf of photos I haven’t posted yet and I should have taken more photos today except I was buying a potting bench.***  Also, it was raining.

But then I got distracted by footnotes. . . . †

* * *

* Rikke posted to the forum about having to look up this reference.  I sometimes have trouble remembering that not everyone is an American Eng lit major^ of a certain age.  I am generally so awful about quotes and references and cultural benchmarks and so on that I assume that if I know it, everyone knows it.  Apologies for apparently wilful obscurity, yesterday, tomorrow, last week, next year, whenever.^^

^ Ie went to an American uni/college and read/studied English literature

^^ Personally I prefer jokes I can understand.

** Including terrifying numbers of dahlias.  And glads.  Gladioli do not survive winter!^  It’s in the contract!  You get used to buying more, and complaining!  Well, they don’t survive winter except when they do, and when they do they tend to reproduce.  Since I frequently put glads into dahlia pots^^ there’s a certain struggle for supremacy going on.  May the best triffid win.

^ The extra-weird thing is that the books and articles all hammer you with the fact that it’s not frost kills things like glad bulbs and dahlia tubers but wet:  they sit in sodden soil and rot.  Excuse me guys.  We’ve just had the wettest winter since the Palaeolithic.  What gives?

^^ They can all fall down together.  Glads will mostly stand up without staking—mostly—but not when an inadequately-staked dahlia crashes over on one.

*** For Third House.  Atlas has pretty well taken over the shed, including the potting table, and I’ve done the throwing-hands-up-in-despair routine about this and declared that I’m leaving the shed to the boys, and will buy a tiny garden storage doodad and a cheap potting table for me which can all go under the minimal overhang in the corridor between Third House and its neighbour.

This gave Fiona and me the excuse to go look at garden sheds on Tuesday instead of attending to business.   I was pretty well incapable of attending to business on Tuesday.^  And we saw some very nice sheds.  Fiona thought I should buy the climbing frame/slide/sandpit for Pav.  Hahahahahaha you’re so funny.  The littlest cheapest shed will do nicely thank you very much, good grief, people apparently get a little carried away with their back-garden empire building.  The shed I have in mind doesn’t even get to call itself a shed, it’s a ‘garden tidy’.  If you’re a shed you have to have windows, a portcullis and a concierge.  No.  And I don’t want the purple Alice house that I can’t stand up in anyway, Fiona, I’m looking at you.

Today however since I had to blaze into Mauncester for a meeting with a bank official^^ I went via the Extra Large Everything for the Domestic Empire Builder store in one of those industrial estates that make you suspect you’ve wandered into an alternate universe^^^.  Their minimal selection of sheds was nasty—I think you’re supposed to build your own:  you’re letting the side down by buying something that someone else has already cut crooked and drilled the holes in the wrong places—but they did have a cheap potting table that looked possible.

Now here is where I began to think I really had wandered into an alternate universe.  The British are polite.~  They’re vaccinated for it when they’re half an hour old.  Of course you get rude ones but then people who’ve had the vaccination get measles too.  The potting table, even in its inelegant flat pack, is large~~ and I’m neither very little nor very old but I’m a whole lot older and skinnier than the half dozen stalwart young men in store uniforms I went past toting the blasted thing to the tills.  I then went back for a bag of the right-sized gravel~~~ which weighed even more than the flabberjabbing table, and went past a different assortment of stalwart young men in store uniforms . . . and not one of them offered aid to my frail grey-haired= self.==  The woman at the till was obviously not having a good day and when she’d rung me up with a lot of slamming and pinging she snarled, would you like help to the car with that?  Er—no thanks, I said, sidling away clutching my gravel.  When I came back for the potting bench she was immersed in making some other hapless customer’s life a little more miserable.  Feh.

^ Smoke and mirrors update:  I’m not telling you how bad it’s been with the hellhounds lately, or how much sleep I’m not getting or how much morale I’ve lost or how a properly tightened harp/violin/guitar string has nothing on me.  Hellhounds are not having a good time either of course.  The decision to stop being a daily blog probably has less to do with the Samaritans+ than about hellhound management.  I finally talked to the vet again today who has recently cured two hopeless cases of digestive mayhem and wants to try the same protocol on my hellhounds—but it’s a little experimental and I have to sign a release form.  Yes.  Whatever.  Pleeeease.  We reached the end of the line a while back.

+ Which continues to be brilliant even if I feel like the stupidest person on the planet at least three times per training evening.#  We’re halfway through the first module.##  Eeeeeep. 

# Which may have something to do with stress levels and lack of sleep, of course, but the truth is that the idea of being able to do something for someone when you can’t do shitfuck for various members of your own family is very appealing.

## At the end of which is when you start taking duty shifts.  There’s a second (required) module in the autumn but it’s not as intensive.

^^ On whom I walked out after twenty minutes+ sitting on an uncomfortable chair in the waiting area slap next to the entrance which must be a total thrill in cold weather with the wind turning your pages for you every time someone comes through the front door.  Tomorrow I go back to my branch office and ask for the frelling customer complaints address again.

+ Also on the wall opposite the door was a digital gizmo (presumably) displaying today’s date.  It read ‘21 May’.  This was not reassuring.

^^^ But then Atlas’ shed kind of makes me feel that way, which is where we came in.

~ Last night one of our Sams trainers, in discussing dealing with our occasional aggressive male client, made reference to ‘the gentle sex’.  I nearly fell out of my chair laughing.  This bloke is probably my age.  I can’t imagine any American under the age of about a hundred and twelve using that phrase.

~~ I had a bad moment when I finally got it out to Wolfgang.  But it went in.  Just.

~~~ The invisible gravel-eating dragon at the cottage is particular about the size of his gravel, and apparently particular invisible gravel-eating dragons are common in this area because it’s hard finding the right size.

= All right, not very grey yet.  But getting there.

== You may be aware that it is one of the laws of the greater universe, not just our small subiverse, that the carts available at Large DIY Stores are made out of tin foil and coat hanger wire and, furthermore, all drive at weird angles so you’re always urgently trying to keep them from ploughing into the two-storey begonia display, and that if you dropped a potting bench flat pack on one, let alone a bag of invisible-dragon fodder, its axles would disintegrate and its wheels explode and the store detective would arrest you for vandalism.

† Also, as mentioned above/below, depending on how you read your footnotes, I’m just a trifle demented from lack of sleep.

Summer is icumen in*

 

Poor Nadia emailed yesterday that she had tonsillitis**,  so I phoned Atlas and asked him to bring his trailer today, Monday being his usual McKinley-Dickinson day, and I’m usually having a voice lesson.***  But now that I’m NOT letting Third House, the garden is again mine.#  So I thought I might send some of the botanical overflow from the cottage to Third House, whose borders are nothing like full since the awful truth is that living in three houses is Not Really Practical.  Ahem.  At least not unless you have staff which is not one of the options here.  And while Atlas to cut the grass is great## if you have a garden because you like gardening you don’t really want someone else doing all the fun stuff, which is basically everything but mowing lawns.###

The trailer is about eight foot by four, if you're wondering.

The trailer is about eight foot by four, if you’re wondering.

Atlas, grinning hugely, said, So, Robin, what are you going to do with all the SPACE?  –SPACE?  WHAT SPACE?  You can still only get out the kitchen door at the cottage carefully.  You can barely tell anything’s changed.  Especially after I spent the remainder of the afternoon at the cottage, potting up and potting on.~  Things race out so, this time of year, with summer icumen and all.  I also found, not to say unearthed, a good Wolfgang’s boot-load of plants that should have gone up in the trailer.  Except there wasn’t room.  Tomorrow.  I can take them up tomorrow ~~.  Tomorrow I may teach Fiona the basics of gardening.~~~

* * *

* And I wish the cuckoo would sing, they’re getting rarer and rarer.  When I moved over here twenty-odd years ago they were dead common.  They’re now dead rare.  I hope they don’t finish this progression to dead dead.

** It’ll be good when everyone’s immune system adjusts to kids-in-school germs.  Stella still goes down with everything on offer and generously passes about half of it on to her mother.  And there’s Renfrew to add to the germ-factory joy in a couple of years.

*** It is really very annoying that the world does not revolve around me, so I could schedule everything to suit my convenience.

# All right, I’m going to have to share it with Peter.  Our garden.  Not some random rent-paying stranger’s garden.

## I used to the mow the little lawns–ie with a hand mower, not some snarling sit-on behemoth–in the walled garden at the old house AND IT’S ABOUT THE MOST BORING THING EVER.

### Almost everything.  Battling perennial weeds with roots to China is also a major ratbag since I won’t use chemical -icides.

~ I need more potting compost.  Sigh.

~~ Okay, so I buy too many plants like I buy too much yarn and too many books and music and . . . but I have a serious dahlia problem this year. Which is that I think all of last year’s are still alive.  And of course I ordered more, because attrition can be expected to run anywhere from about 60% to 100%.  Little green dahlia leaves in one of last year’s pots are usually cause for excitement and celebration not a blank look of disbelief and a muttered, another one?

~~~ First you buy your Royal Horticultural Society/Victoria & Albert Museum kneeler, with the fabulous William Morris or Redoubte rose print, and then you need your pink gloves^. . . .

^ They’ve started making pink hand tools but so far the ones I’ve seen appear to be for people who don’t actually . . . plan to use them.  Hmmph.  Who wants tools that don’t do the job??  Decorative tools?  Spare me.  Although I’m just as happy not to spend top-end prices on another pair of secateurs.  If Felco comes out with pink secateurs I’m in trouble.

LA CENERENTOLA etc*

 

I think I haven’t been to any of the New York Metropolitan Opera’s live-streaming cinema broadcasts this season, for a variety of reasons, including being fired by my dog minder, but also . . . and I realise how pathetic and lame this sounds . . . because Saturday night is my favourite frelling church service, sitting silently in the dark with monks.  Saturday night is the only service all week that has the silent-sitting thing.  I’ll try to catch an extra service at the abbey, I hope tomorrow night**, but if I want to sit silently in the dark I’ll have to do it by myself.  Whiiiiiiine.

But this run at the Met is probably Joyce DiDonato’s last performance of La Cenerentola, and last night was the broadcast.  And Radio 3, which would be airing it only without the eye-candy part, has been advertising it pretty hard.  And there are, in fact, limits to my dedication to God (and monks).***  Joyce DiDonato, you know?†  Not to mention Juan Diego Florez, who is adorable aside from the high Cs††.

Because I bought my ticket at the last minute I had a choice between being at the extreme end of one of the back rows and thus seeing the screen as if reflected in an unfunhouse mirror . . . or the aisle of the second row and thus needing a neck like a giraffe to tip my head far enough back to see the screen at all.  I went for the second row.  And brought a large tote bag with two big fat pillows in it—much to the hilarity of the guy behind me in row three†††—and lay down for the show.‡  Worked a treat, thanks.

AND THE OPERA WAS FABULOUS.  STAGGERINGLY, GORGEOUSLY, JAW-DROPPINGLY FABULOUS.  If they rerun it—which they sometimes do, and I would expect DiDonato’s final go at one of her signature roles would be a good candidate—and you have the FAINTEST interest in opera or classical singing or music—GO.  GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO.

And . . . just by the way . . . not that this has anything to do with anything . . . but there are three cute guys in it.  This doesn’t happen in opera.  You’re lucky if you have one who, compared with a dead fish, comes out slightly ahead.  Florez, as previously observed, is darling.‡‡  Dandini is also pretty frelling cute.‡‡‡  And Alidoro . . . ::fans self::§  I mean, gleep.§§

. . . . Anyway.  I have now spent over an hour sifting through YouTube clips§§§ because I am so devoted to the welfare of my blog readers, and I HAVE TO GO TO BED.  Maybe I’ll get back to CENERENTOLA in a footnote sometime. . . .

* * *

* The etc is chiefly that we went to a National Garden Scheme garden today . . . and took Pav.  I’ve been wanting to take her to an open garden but there aren’t that many that allow dogs—fewer than there used to be, I would have said, but maybe it’s just around here, or we want to go to the wrong gardens.^

This one was gorgeous, mellow old stone house on the bank^^ of one of England’s pencil-thick so-called rivers, but winding romantically, with waterfowl and reeds.^^^  The garden then extended back across fields with vistas and benches and the occasional outburst of perennial border.  And the weather, which was forecast to be grouchy and streaming by turns, was glorious, bright blue sky and big fat scudding clouds.#  I barely saw any of it, since Pav was trying to see, respond, engage, EAT all of it simultaneously and you couldn’t see those little short legs, they were churning so fast.  ADVENTURE!  WE’RE HAVING AN ADVENTURE!  Pantpantpantpantpantpantpant.  She did not seem to be sorry to sit in my lap for tea, however, where she was more easily suppressed than if I tried to make her lie down under my chair##, although I did have to keep a sharp eye on the cakes.  NO.  NOT FOR DOGS.  NOT EVEN FOR HELLTERRORS.  Cute is not enough.  —She was much admired by several aficionados of the breed, however, as well as cringed away from by several people who think they know that all bull terriers are evil biting machines.  Sigh.  We saw Labs (of frelling course), Goldens, poodles, gazillions of ordinary boring hairy terrier terriers . . . but we were the Supreme Only Bull Terrier present.

^ We used to allow dogs when we opened our garden at the old house.  Just by the way.  We also offered free plastic bags.  Ahem.  Today this aspect of the presence of dogs was pretty funny.  Pav in the heat of excitement had an unscheduled defecatory moment which—since I always have plastic bags secreted about my person in several places in case I forget and run out in the standard coat pocket location—I recovered.  But there wasn’t anything like a bin to deposit the securely wrapped morsel in.  I can’t now remember what we did when we had our garden open;  did we expect people to carry canine excreta home with them?  Surely not.  Anyway.  No bin.  So Pav and I went back to the gate while Peter bought tea+, and inquired there if there was a public bin nearby?  The car park this private garden was using for their open day was attached to some public wildlife preserve, you’d frelling expect there’d be a bin.

You’d’ve thought I’d made an improper suggestion++.  Both ladies looked alarmed and revolted and the nearer one edged her chair away from Pav doing her I-am-a-lunatic-and-I-have-no-manners shtick but clearly secured by a thick+++, heavy, short lead.  No-no-no-no-no, quavered one of them, clutching her twinset to her bosom.

I was tempted to make little dashes at them—like the bully in the playground waving a poor confused harmless snake at the wusses, although I would not describe Pav as poor or confused, or harmless if you’re wearing clean jeans—but I didn’t want to be told to go away before I’d had my tea.  So I restrained myself (and Pav).

And took our parcel back to the car.  Which was kind of a frelling walk.  Next year the owner, whom I heard saying jollily that they’d had a lot of dogs today, should consider both the suitability of the volunteers on the gate and the provision of a small bin with a lid.

+ Including the all-important Cake Selection process

++ Live in a yurt!  Buy an armadillo!  Get legless on a night you’re wearing stacked stilettos and make the Street Pastors give you a pair of flipflops!

+++ and spectacularly gaudy.  So gaudy I had a pair of meek little English men creep up to me and ask softly where I’d bought it.  Oh, the States somewhere, I said loudly in my rich American accent.  I forget.

So maybe it was the (pink) harness and rainbow-dazzle lead that the ladies on the gate were disturbed by, and the drooling hellterror exhibiting them was incidental.

^^ High enough, I guess, that they did not have water in their cellar this winter.

^^^ Rushes?  Tall strappy-leaved edge-of-river plants.

# The best thing of all was how easy it was to find.  It looked in the directions like it should be easy.  But that doesn’t mean anything.

## HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.  But she lies down very well if there’s cheese or chicken involved.  And I did have chicken jerky in my pocket in case of emergencies.

** As I wrote to Alfrick, emailing to warn him I wasn’t coming last night, I start jonesing for monks if I go much over a week without a hit.

*** I’m a Street Pastor!  I’m about to become a frelling (nonreligious, but God still told me to) Samaritan!  Cut me some slack here!

†  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3damaS03KgY wowzah

†† https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WD1Cq2T5veI gonzo

††† And I wager my neck was in better shape than his at the end of the four hours

‡ Leg stowage I admit can be a problem in these situations, but as it happens there was no one in the front row, so I could rest my raised knees against the seat without anyone objecting.

‡‡ In the interviews I’ve heard with him he sounds like a decent human being too.  I refuse to find darling people who are clearly major creepazoids.^

^ I’m old.  My hormones are under control.+

+ Except for the ones involved in hot flushes.  I thought you STOPPED HAVING hot flushes/flashes after a few years.  I’m waiting. . . .

‡‡‡ https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=pietro+spagnoli

§ Hot flush.  No, really.

§§ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pr2LBjN7K10 Gah.  I have wasted a lot of time trying to find a clip where you can not merely hear but see him.  There’s also quite a good one of him singing poor Cherubino off to battle but you don’t get a close up.  This one is fairly explicit.  He’s the one doing most of the singing, making up to the girl in the grey dress.  ::fans self more::  Oh, Dmitri [Hvoroskovsky], you may have a rival.^

^ I’M OLD.  MY HORMONES ARE UNDER CONTROL.

§§§ Okay.  Some knitting also occurred.

Sweet peas and singing

 

I’ve been planting sweet peas and singing.  My poor neighbours.  Theodora is very usefully deaf* and Phineas seems to think I’m fun to watch and possibly even listen to.**  I do keep it down a little when I’m out front;  I don’t want the military chappie over the road to decide to test the army’s new long-range assault weapon at home.***  This is the time of year when my garden suddenly gets away from me.  There’s usually a misleadingly serene several weeks in early-mid spring when I think I’m finally going to get it together this summer . . . and I have managed to keep throwing out the ever-better this-season’s plant sales BUY BUY BUY BARGAINS TOO GOOD TO MISS catalogues which is where I usually lose it drastically†, especially during those disorienting few weeks in spring when there are gaps where I can see actual bare dirt,†† and the careful, all-at-once-so-I-can-remember-what-I’m-doing orders of the previous winter have faded perilously in my memory.  Despite this unnatural restraint I still seem to have an awful lot of thriving baby and adolescent plants out there.

So it’s been a beautiful day and there are all these trays of no-longer-so-little plants gasping to go into something a little more permanent.  The sweet peas have indeed rioted on to a degree I wasn’t expecting and have all plunged through their crumbly pressed-paper plant-as-is pots and reached little white roots into the surrounding compost . . . oops.  Sweet peas hate root disturbance and these will now sulk for weeks††† . . . and if any of them does send out a questing tendril, you can be sure it will snake along the ground and then twist up the wrong frelling thing.  Bamboo stakes?  Boring.  Garden wire run through eye-bolts in the house wall?  Vulgar.  Iron railing uprights?  Feh.  Other plants?  . . . Possibly.  But only things like snapdragons and petunias, not sensible things like roses and my little corkscrew hazel.

Gardening.  It’s still critters, just more green and less fur.

* * *

* Her daughter isn’t, but she gets home latish . . . although not late enough this time of year when the sunlight goes on and on and you can be in the garden till nine.  I admit that by 8:30 if you’re not noticing it’s getting dark you’re really determined not to pay attention^, but this can be arranged.

^ You probably don’t want to be weeding at this stage:  all little green things look alike in twilight.  You can certainly be potting on however.  Some day I will get electricity put into my greenhouse . . . and then I can stay out there all night.+

+ With the bug zapper on high.  ZZZZZZZSST. #

# Why are bugs so STUPID?  And this includes nice bugs~ like bees.  I know that house flies exist to be annoying and mosquitoes are after you, but bees, say, they fly into your dark house and make a pass through your kitchen and rather than saying, oh, wow, bad choice, and turning around and flying back out through the door again, they fly straight past the open door, duck around the frame, and bash themselves against a window.  I had one of those small-dog-sized bumblebees~~ fly into the cottage kitchen this afternoon and mosey around like a medium-sized zeppelin.  And she would not leave.  I finally put a glass over her and took her outdoors like a bouncer dealing with the last partygoers.~~~  From the names she called me through the glass she was not amused.

~ A generic term for chitinous critters.  Because I say so.=

= Back, taxonomists!  You’re not wanted!  Back, back!

~~ Pav and I met the Yorkshire terrier lady this afternoon while we were out for some hurtling.  I made the mistake of telling a friend a few days ago what a nice dog Pav has turned into and she’s been possessed by forty demons ever since.  It was by email!  It’s not like Pav heard me!  The Yorkie lady is a big Pav fan although on days like today that takes some concentration.  Anyway I swear my bumblebee was larger than either of the Yorkie lady’s little bundles of fluff.

~~~ I suppose I should make exceptions for bees that I find climbing into my indoor flowers.  I wouldn’t have thought there was anything to have off your average windowsill geraniums, but I’ve seen bees trying.   Also popular are cut garden flowers—as opposed to florists’ flowers—bees appear to believe that nectar and pollen go on being viable even in a vase.=

= These are deadheading accidents, you realise.  CUT flowers for the house??  Cut them OFF THE PLANT?  Are you KIDDING?

** Also I feed his cat for him—the orange ex-hellkitten^—when he’s away.  He wants to stay on my good side.

^ He’s so little.  He’s not huge even as ordinary domestic cats go—he’s probably the small side of average—but if you’re used to dogs, if you have dogs twining up your ankles most of your life+, cats are such delicate little things.  I realise this is an illusion but in terms of sheer weight even Pav is about three cats’ worth.

+ Nat on the forum asked if the hellhounds are whippets.  I thought this was in ‘about’# but apparently it isn’t.  Surely I’ve told you that they’re seven-eighths whippet and one eighth deerhound##?  Well, it ought to be in ‘about.’  Furthermore I’ve forgotten all about putting poor Pav in.  Not to mention Christianity, Street Pastoring and the Samaritans—or even voice lessons.  So one of these nights I’m not writing a blog post I’d better update ‘about’.

Oh, and hellhounds are also ‘entire’ as they call it over here—they still have their testicles—which entirety also makes them a little bigger and sturdier than most whippets.  The whippets and whippety dogs that look like they’re made out of pipe cleaners were often neutered too young.

# Top bar of the opening page of the blog

## Sighthounds are notoriously bad eaters.  Of sighthounds, deerhounds and Salukis are notoriously notoriously bad eaters.  SID EATS.  Wish fulfilment?  Sure.  That and cliff hangers are why I enjoy KES.

*** And the evil vargleglunger over the back wall, the one with the shed with the tarpaper^ roof that sticks up over the wall and ruins my view, I should spend more time on that back border and learn the Queen of the Night to accompany my efforts.  Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen!  Hört, Rachegötter!!

^ Well it looks like tarpaper, which is to say ugly

† Speaking of windowsill geraniums, I have spent YEARS telling myself I will get all the geraniums^ off the windowsills and outdoors^^ this summer to be pruned and repotted and given some real sunlight, which geraniums usually like, before that irritating fellow Winter shows up again and spoils it.   THIS YEAR I’m going to get . . . at least some of them outdoors.  I am.

^ And begonias, poinsettias, spiky cacti, and various random houseplants

^^ the Christmas cacti and the hibiscus can stay indoors since they’ll have palpitations if I try and persuade them that photosynthesis is good and the sun is their friend

†† Or in my garden, I-just-frelling-cleared-there weeds, self-propelling courtyard gravel, and glimpses of all the plumbing in Hampshire.^

^ But you know I could use a few more petunias.  And maybe begonias.  I seem to have underordered.+ And I need to get back to the garden centre, I’m still waiting for my snapdragons.  Snapdragons are necessary.

+ HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

††† IN MY DEFENSE I’ve gone on bringing them in at night off and on till this week, and I’m still bringing the basil^ and the recently-arrived chocolate cosmos indoors overnight.

^ Basil always says, England?  England?  Are you kidding me?  You’re expecting me to burgeon and produce fragrant Mediterranean leaves here?  YES.  I DO.  AND HERE’S A NICE HOT SUNNY KITCHEN WINDOW LEDGE.  SHUT UP AND GROW.

First Roses?!

 

We have roses.  We’re not supposed to have roses—it’s only the end of frelling April—and we don’t have many, but we do have roses.  And they’re not even the so-called species* roses which are often the early ones, but proper overbred garden roses.  Peter’s is even an Austin for pity’s sake, although she is on the front wall of the mews, and that courtyard is a heat sink, but I’m used to Austins in Hampshire starting up in June.  My two, Sophie’s Perpetual and my beloved Old Blush, AKA (among other things) Parson’s Monthly, are certainly human bred roses, but they are also known for starting early and going on and on.**  But THIS early?***  Never mind . . . I’m not complaining.

 

William Morris.  Personally I think the original WM would have spasms at the idea of an apricot-pink rose named after him but hey.

William Morris. Personally I think the original WM would have spasms at the idea of an apricot-pink rose named after him but hey.

Sophie's Perpetual.  If she goes on being a healthy and reliable bloomer I'll forgive her but she has a tendency to grow sideways rather than up.

Sophie’s Perpetual. If she goes on being a healthy and reliable bloomer I’ll forgive her but she has a tendency to grow sideways rather than up.

 

Old Blush.  If you are the last rose of summer in my garden you are CHERISHED.

Old Blush. If you are the last rose of summer in my garden you are CHERISHED.

* Botanical nomenclature makes me lose the will to live really fast.  I acknowledge the need for precision, including that everyone talking about this plant rather than that plant can feel sure they’re all on the same page blah blah blah blah blah blah blah BLAH BLAH BLAH but I don’t want to hear about it.  I have one perfectly practical, working response to plants, in a catalogue, on a web site or at a nursery:  (a) roses = want^;  (b) shiny = want;  (c) meh = don’t want.  I don’t care what you call them^^.  ‘Species’ roses, or ‘species’ most things that have a large cultivated-garden presence, are, for my money, and you purists out there look away now, the ones that haven’t been endlessly messed with by plant breeders and look more or less as they did when some stalwart explorer first found them growing out of a hillside or a cliff top or a river margin or the roof of the local priestess’ temple and brought them home in the hopes of material gain.

^ This being why I have to chain myself to Wolfgang’s steering wheel when we drive past the one semi-local rose nursery:  when you have a small garden you can do a lot of damage in a rose nursery even if you only go there once a year.+

+ Penelope, Harriet and I are planning a field trip that will involve passing that nursery but Harriet is driving.  This is ostensibly because Harriet of the three of us minds driving the least and she has a much nicer cleaner car than Wolfgang.#  But I haven’t told them about the chaining myself to the steering wheel tactic or they might insist on my driving for the entertainment value.##

# People given the choice of firing squad or death by dog hair inhalation will probably choose the firing squad.  Even if I remove the dog beds and sweep out the back seat it’s still a Guinness Book of World Records situation back there.

## Most of my friends have a strange sense of humour, yes.  That’s why we get along, innit?

^^ Except insofar as it pertains to whether or not I can grow the sucker.  If it’s going to get eight foot tall and is frost tender, no, I can’t.+

+ Which is why the one fabulously successful stephanotis floribunda# I once grew in my office at the old house and which was significantly bigger than I am when I had to move it into town, croaked the first winter.  Both of us couldn’t fit in the cottage kitchen at the same time, and I didn’t get it indoors soon enough one night.##

# Botanical nomenclature AAAAAAAUGH.  It’s a lot harder to avoid in England, however.  You Americans can call it Madagascar jasmine, I think.

## I killed another little one this winter I have no idea why.  It had been doing pretty well, I thought, on the kitchen windowsill, and then it suddenly said, bored now, and died.  I’ll probably get another one. . . . ~

~ And I think I haven’t told you about the Hibiscus Forest.  Peter had a very, very, very, very badly neglected hibiscus houseplant that I tried to kind of fatten up for the chop so I could get some cuttings off it before/when I pruned it because I suspected the pruning would kill it.  It did.  I had about eight viable cuttings which to my total astonishment struck= which I therefore had to pot on and figure out what to do with.  First winter they all fit on the same windowsill, no problem.  And then the gardening books always tell you to put your houseplants outdoors for the summer because all indoor plants are ipso facto dying== and this will make them happy and strong to survive another winter on your windowsill.

The hibiscus cuttings hated being outdoors.  I kept trying to find the hibiscus sweet spot and they kept saying, no, this isn’t it, waaaaaaah, we want murky daylight through glass, we want house spiders and dust, we want dog hair.  I lost three of them.  I thought I was going to lose a fourth, but it was still semi-clinging to life by early last autumn when I gave up and brought them indoors long before frost would become an issue.  All five of them have shot up and out over the winter and I’m going to have to pot them on and . . . you know, common-or-garden-variety hibiscus get kind of large.

= Ie grew roots and looked like living.

== Although if you want to get technical about it everything alive is dying.

** I’ve told you before that in a mild winter Old Blush will have a flower out for Christmas.^  I haven’t had Sophie in town long enough, and at the old house she was in a dumb place and shut down flowering with the majority.

^ Mythology states that Thomas Moore’s Last Rose of Summer was an Old Blush.  Mind you, what exactly is going on in that poem is, perhaps fortunately, a trifle obscure.  If he’s really tearing up a rose so it doesn’t have to be alooone, he’s a dipstick with a tendency to vandalism and it’s no wonder he doesn’t have any friends.

*** Apologies to the forum member whom I told quellingly she would not see roses when she was over here the end of April.  I hope there are banks, walls and gazebos of blooming roses wherever you are.

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Genius is more often found in a cracked pot than in a whole one -- E B White