Sunday’s garden was the not-exactly-insignificant remains of a truly GIGANTIC estate. GIIIIIGANTIC. You get used to this kind of thing, visiting gardens in England, but every now and then one whacks you all over again. This was one of those for me, although as a garden it was not all that impressive.* But it’s in a village about a stone’s throw from here. Well, maybe two sequential stone-throwings. It’s out Fesca Fenestra and Bindlefugg way, and although this is a wealthy area generally, it’s worse in that district. One can feel one’s plebeian’s lungs struggling with the thin aristocratic air. So while the village is maybe ten minutes from here . . . it’s another ten minutes up the driveway.
Well, they aren’t out yet. Everything is late because this winter went on and on AND ON and while us in town are having midsummer more or less in midsummer, things having rushed into bloom in haste, out in the countryside . . . no. And I’m like, NO ROSES???, so, why did I come? Some bloke just started talking to me about the ABSENCE OF ROSES and I’m all, yo, bloke, why me?, but in fact I was incapable of resisting an opportunity to talk about roses. We agreed in a superior manner that while it was very disappointing the roses weren’t out, by the look of the beds it wasn’t a very interesting rose garden. Georgiana and Peter had wandered off, leaving me to my grumble, and the woman the bloke was with was standing there with ‘I’m here because HE wanted to look at the ROSES and there AREN’T EVEN ANY ROSES’ stamped on her face. Poor woman. I hope he ordered her a glass of champagne at the pub. But after we parted I was still thinking, I wasn’t talking out loud to myself about LACK OF ROSES–was I?–I’m sure I wasn’t. It’s true I was wearing a shirt with a ROSE on it but . . . I could’ve just been wearing a shirt with a rose on it. I guess us rose nutters just find each other.
Ordinary people, you know, take their children or their girlfriends for a nice walk or a picnic or similar. NO. WE ARE GOING TO HAVE A FOLLY. A CASTLE FOLLY. That’s what it’s called on the map: Castle Folly. Good grief.
Someone’s folly is easily as big as the cottage and Third house combined. Also, although I ran out of photo space here, there’s a great door in the back wall that opens twenty feet up on nothing. For those guests you don’t like much. Bye-bye.
Hee hee hee hee hee.
But lest you think the afternoon was a waste, the cakes at the tea shed were excellent and I bought another frelling tender abutilon at the plant sale table arrrrrrgh. One more thing to bring indoors next winter.
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* Hint: a serious insufficiency of roses
I was going to run this last night, till I discovered that the White Screen of Death had disappeared all the blog’s admin.* Peter and I, with an assortment of friends and relations, have been to two, count ’em, two, other-people’s-gardens over the weekend. You’re spoilt for choice, this time of year, and we settled on these two as much for convenience of meeting other people at as the elected spectacles’ inherent attractions. This time of year all gardens are attractive.** So one garden on the blog tonight and one tomorrow. But I was thinking that Cat with Buddha Nature and Daisies is clearly a garden, so tonight is already Other People’s Gardens, continued, and tomorrow night will be Other People’s Gardens continued 3.***
Because WordPress hates me, and because it’s changed its arglefarging media-handling around again just for something to do this photo, which is supposed to be second jumped the queue into the photoless space at the beginning of the photo-blog templates Blogmom makes for me (because WordPress hates me). So this one was supposed to be second and the second one was supposed to be first. I’m not frelling around with it any more.
See previous. Grrrrr.
One of the friends we were with told a funny story, with appropriate gestures, about visiting a garden with another heron statue. Oh, these have got so boringly common, said someone, it’s time garden fashion moved on. Whereupon the heron gave them an injured look, and flew away.
This is what you do when you suddenly fancy a wisteria and you own about forty-two acres. You just find an empty space and build it its own little roofless wall-less house. There’s another one of these neat structures beyond this where the wisteria hasn’t really got going yet. But . . . a wisteria avenue. Fie.
Gloire de Dijon, I assume. It usually is, but I forgot to check for a label.
I did check the label on this one, since I was kneeling on it to take the photo, but chances were good it was Etoile anyway. She’s one of the best old amazingly fragrant dark red roses–but she’s also notorious for her weak neck, so one of the reasons everyone grows the climber and not the bush is because standing under a twelve or fifteen-foot climber with all the highly scented blooms pointing down straight at you is charming. Lying on the ground to enjoy her flowers if you have the bush is not so charming.
* Blogmom works Sunday nights. She might as well be a free-lance writer. Ha ha ha ha ha.
** Even small crammed untidy town gardens. More photos of mine soon.
*** Unless of course something really exciting happens like I ring a quarter of Stedman Triples^ or I get the lab results back on Pav and WE HAVE A DIAGNOSIS.^^ A nice well-defined diagnosis with a clear prognosis and established treatment plan with a 100% success rate.^^^ I would prefer that this latter not include Beluga caviar or a butler.
^ I am going to try to go to Fustian practise tomorrow night. But it’s been so long since I’ve been near a bell rope I’ll probably have forgotten which way to hold it.+
+ And I finally got back to St Margaret’s last night too. And I was glad to be back and hear the sermon live and all—they record them so you can sit at home with your knitting if you prefer—but absence from that yucky music-substitute drivel has not made my heart any fonder at all.
^^ Isn’t there a Far Side cartoon where a doctor is telling a patient with cow heads sticking out of him, ‘I’m sorry, Mr Thing, but it’s cows’?
^^^ I won’t say my voice lesson was a disaster. ‘Disaster’ is maybe a little strong. I had warned Nadia that the stress level was high and that I sounded like a rusty hinge, and that what I wanted her to do was reset me so I could sing. She did that. So it was a practical success even if in an absolute sense it . . . was a disaster. Sigh.
BAG THE MELODRAMA. IT’S MIDSUMMER. LET’S HAVE SOME GARDEN PHOTOS.
I have NO IDEA why I have meconopsis–meconopsises?–this year. I had more or less given up buying them; they’re expensive and they keep dying. I’ve never had one last more than a year, whether it flowered or not. * At the same time I am a complete sap about not throwing things out even if they’re clearly dead or–since m. disappears over the winter–if a pot looks like it used to have something in it that might just disappear over the winter rather than have died, I’ll probably keep it intact too. (Of course there is no label. Don’t be silly.) I’ve just had this behaviour spectacularly reinforced** by the fact that several apparently empty pots came out of winter hibernation this year producing little fuzzy meconopsis leaves. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I have been saying, looking at them cynically, you’re just teasing me, right? –What do I do now?
Non-meconopsis garden poppies however are so easy. You just slap them in and ignore them, and they come in lots of variations on a theme of white-pink-red-orange-scarlet-salmon-maroon-plum. They are rather terrible floppers, but you forgive them. Sometimes they’re fringed.
But meconopsis–! I have a second tier. I not only have a meconopsis that is not dead that is producing a blue flower it is producing more than ONE blue flower. Tiers! What a concept!
Have I told you this story? I put Dreaming Spires in the first or second year I was in this house (and this garden). She struggled for a bit and then appeared to give up. Well, she’s in a terrible spot, buried behind the apple tree and getting almost no sunlight. Poor thing. The ratbag of this however is that she’s becoming rather obscure and was not going to be easy to replace and furthermore where else could I put her in this tiny crowded space that would be any better? See: failing to throw things out that are clearly dead. A year or two later I finally looked up and . . . she’s flowering away like mad at the top of the apple tree. Sigh. I could get a ladder . . . and at least she’s alive. And happy.
There are actually three huge open flowers, plus that half-open one you can see. YEEEEEEEP. –Nongardeners may be finding this all rather obscure. But meconopsis-worship is fairly common. And the flowers genuinely are an astonishing shade of blue. No photo really comes close.
So eight years ago when I moved into town from a two and a half acre garden to a plot of ground the size of a large bathtub or a small swimming pool, an image that perhaps comes to mind because of the all the plumbing in Hampshire running under it problem as well as the large round brick well head taking up about a quarter of what there is of it, I thought of all the gigantic house-engulfing roses I could no longer grow. And I decided that I had at least to have rosa banksiae lutea. THIS IS THE FIRST YEAR SHE HAS FLOWERED. ***
The clematis is that hoary old faithful Nellie Moser. Those with taste tend to scorn her. I wasn’t planning on having her here but . . . sometimes, when you’re a crass vulgar American and you live in the polite end of town you just have to manifest your individuality.
MORE PHOTOS TO FOLLOW. Of course. I have barely begun. Oh, and it’s going to rain: Souvenir de la Malmaison is cracking open.
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* Some people will tell you you mustn’t let them flower in the first year. I say if they’re going to die anyway at least get a few flowers out of them if you can.
** I also went to throw something out that was VERY CLEARLY DEAD and discovered underneath quite a healthy-looking root with a little bulge at the top that looked like a sprout. Oops, I said, pardon me, and stuffed it back into its pot. It’s a hosta. Quite a nice hosta too.
*** There’s kind of more to the story than this. I’ll tell you some other evening.
Bluebells, like everything else this cold nasty year, are late.** I’ve been out stomping through the critical bit of countryside several times in the last three weeks or so and about ten days ago I thought, okay, next week is touchdown or lift-off or whatever. Of bluebells. And then various things intervened and I thought, if I miss the bluebells this year I am going to be CRANKY. Not to mention the small passionate sub-coterie of bluebell-adoring blog readers who would never forgive me.
And then I thought, wait! Rima is coming! I will MAKE HER WALK THROUGH A BLUEBELL WOOD WITH ME! It’s the sort of thing you should do with your American visitors, if they come at the right time of year.
So today we walked through a bluebell wood. Or two. And it was great, except for my camera battery going dead on me. It started flashing red about two-thirds of the way through our walk so I was agonising over every frelling shot, waiting for it to go BYE BYE. SPLAT. HAHAHAHAHAHA. –ARRRRGH. However Rima took a lot of photos too, and will send them to me when she gets home. RIGHT, RIMA?*** So if I missed anything fabulous I’ll post Rima’s version later.****
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The very last thing I do every night is put Pav out for a final pee*. When this happens EVEN LATER THAN USUAL because, say, I’ve been reading something and HAD TO KNOW HOW IT ENDED**, it may no longer be awfully dark outdoors by the time we get out there for this ritual moment. Hey, it’s barely a month to the longest day, it gets light really really REALLY early, okay? So it was like twilight out there this morning, and I was standing there in my nightgown ready to fend the little varmint*** off the rose bushes and my peripheral vision was caught by movement where no movement should be. . . .
There was a big fat mouse lowering the bird-seed level in the feeder by a rate of knots. ARRRRRRRGH.†
This is my fabulous squirrel proof bird feeder, you know? The one with the integral cage that only little birds can get through. Little birds and the occasional frelling mouse—who was soon going to be too frelling bulgy to get out again. I picked up a stake that didn’t happen to be propping anything important and gave the feeder a move-or-die whack. Mouse leaped out into the shadows—Geronimoooooooooo!—and disappeared.††
The real ratbag about this is that I’ve pretty much decided that the birds don’t like this feeder. I have lots of birds in the garden, and the suet block in the other feeder is eaten down pretty reliably. Er. By birds: I see them doing it. This one—nope. I assume they don’t like the cage.
So today, which was a lovely day†††, I spent a good bit of in the garden. ‡ And one of the things I did was tie the clematis and the rose-bush that are the likeliest mouse-access-providing culprits away from the seed feeder.
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* Hellhounds scorn such wimpery. Pav is extremely continent^ but she’s also always delighted to be allowed to burst out of her crate and attack something. If the price for this indulgence is that she stop attacking things^^ long enough to have a pee, she will do that with reasonable grace.
^ Barring the standard canine disasters. My latest trial is that she’s decided that sheep crap is a delicacy. ARRRRRRRRGH. Even if I hold her upside down and shake, the stuff is kind of friable, you know? It doesn’t all hold together neatly and pop out in a nice cohesive lump.
^^ Dirty laundry, nightgown hems+, feet, towels hanging on the Aga rail, etc. If she’s desperate, dog toys.
+ She has, relatively recently, discovered the joys of rocket-launching her solid little furry self upward inside the circle of hem of the nightgown you’re wearing YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.
** I’ll tell you all about it. Some day.
*** With the little glistening varminty eyes
† Speaking of ARRRRRRRRGH. ARRRRRRRRRGH.
†† Pav was sure she’d missed something. I’m glad to say the mouse leaped into the shadows on the far side of the little courtyard fence. I don’t like mice, but I didn’t in the least want my hellterror catching one.^ Or diving through a rose-bush to try.
^ Either she’d eat it—and its unknown but guaranteed undesirable parasites—or she’d just mangle it a little. They scream, you know. Like bunnies. Bunnies scream. Dog owners need to know how to kill things. Whimper.
††† After we got down to a NEAR FROST last night. One of my pathetic and ridiculous excuses for staying up reading was so that I could keep an eye on the frelling thermometer. The temperature had turned around and was going up again by the time I turned the light off. I get to do this again tonight. Or not, of course.
‡ Have I told you I have two lots of American visitors coming next week? I have maybe half a dozen overnight-staying, pond-crossing visitors in an average year . . . and I have THREE of them NEXT WEEK? WHAT? One of them is an old friend, and if the house(s) is a tip and the garden(s) is a jungle, eh, she’s seen it all before. The other one—and her husband—I’m a little afraid of. Sigh. But nothing is going to turn me into a magnificent housekeeper, a sublime gardener and a superlative hostess in the next ten days, so we’ll just have to muddle along somehow.