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.
* * *
* 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.
Nothing from the vets yet. If I haven’t heard from them by tomorrow afternoon I’ll go round and do the Haggard and Hysterical Hellgoddess* at them, just to make sure (a) they haven’t forgotten to tell me because they’re having a busy day and (b) if they haven’t heard from the lab maybe they should do a modicum of checking up. They could say that their client is a haggard and hysterical hellgoddess** and they’d be grateful to have something to tell her. That noise in the background, they could say, is the client under discussion gnawing holes in the clinic’s window frames.
Hellhounds have eaten four and three-quarters meals in a row—NOT WITHOUT EFFORT FROM YOURS TRULY—and there was a certain falling-off from Chaos on the subject of dinner, but I am hoping this is just a blip and not the return of a recent much-feared trend. Crap production is not finest kind either—not that they ever produce finest-kind but what’s happening now is a trifle ominous. . . . I really hope there are lab results tomorrow and that they are, while probably guaranteed non-definitive, at least suggestive.
Hellterror seems as normal—although ‘normal’ applied to a bullie is a bit of a non sequitur—aside from the continued manifestation of hellhound-type un-finest-kind crap. I’m telling myself that this is, in its perverse way, a good thing. It proves there’s something wrong that we can seek till we find.
And I’m basically so tired I could die. I did finally get some sleep last night, but not enough—‘enough’ at this point would probably be into triple figures—and we didn’t have lunch till teatime*** partly because I let myself lie down for a moment† after breakfast and someone stole two hours like picking my pocket.
Not that the day has been a day anyone would want more of than they could help. It’s the 23rd of May in the south of England and we’re having sleet and hail. Okay, you can get hail any time†† but SLEET? Sleet on the 23rd of May in the south of England is rude.
I have indeed spent most of the day playing stupid word games on Astarte. This is all Rima’s fault. Everybody is cooler than I am so I tend to ask visitors what they’re reading/doing/watching/playing. She has an iPad too††† so I didn’t even have the minor protection of noncompatibility. She got me started on Moxie, which I’m not too bad at‡, and What’s My Word? which I’m terrible at, and I discovered Word Abacus for myself which I’m reasonably good at except for the fact that it keeps frelling crashing. This is less annoying than it might be since it tends to crash at about the point that I’m thinking that I’m tired of being dragged up through the levels just because I have a reasonably good vocabulary and keep failing to fail. YAAY. I’VE JUST CRASHED. I GET TO START OVER. I am so not a games player. But the constant pop-up windows asking if I want to SHARE WITH MY FRIENDS make me nuts. NO. I’M TIRED AND STRESSED AND BRAIN DEAD AND WASTING TIME. THE LAST THING I WANT TO DO IS WASTE MY FRIENDS’ TIME TOO.
But the thing that really freaks me out is that Abacus says Hi hellgoddess! every time I open it up again. Where did it pick hellgoddess up from? I sure didn’t invite it to share that particular joke. I do use ‘hellgoddess’ when some blasted impertinent site‡‡ wants a user name other than my email address and I actually am planning on hanging around long enough that it’s not an unreasonable request. ‡‡‡ But some frelling games company? Arrrgh. The permeability of the loose information out there in internet land seriously squicks me out.
* * *
* with optional thunderbolts. Hunderbolts. Hmmm. I think I like hunderbolts. That would be what a hellgoddess hurls.
** with hunderbolts
*** We literally fell through the door at the mews as Peter was making himself a cuppa, the ginger biscuits already out on the table.
† Note to self: when very tired, don’t get dressed in the bedroom. Where the bed is.
†† As any gardener who has ever opened their private garden to the public the day after a major hailstorm will have no trouble remembering forever. You’re scheduled in the Yellow Book^, it’s not like you can say, tra la la, I’ve changed my mind. Delphiniums? What delphiniums? Roses put up with being thrashed better than most so we had some garden left. It’s still horrible.
^ http://www.ngs.org.uk/ There are plenty of other private-garden-openings for charity, but this is the big famous organization. We used to open at the old house.
††† Although her cover for hers is orange. With mine in blistering pink on the same table it was kind of War of the Kindergarten Colours. Anybody out there with a lime-green cover for their iPad? Come play with us.
‡ Also I like it when it says twaddle which is a trifle counterproductive since this costs you thirty points.
‡‡ I was trying to buy cheap fleece blankets on line tonight—during breaks from Word Abacus—because with three hellcritters I find I run out of bedding as soon as there is any extra strain on the system—a hellterror bitch in heat, say.^ This frelling site wanted my birth date ‘for added security’. What the bleep does that mean? They lost that sale. Now I need an alternative source of cheap fleece blankets for critter bedding.
^ Ref Diane in MN’s comment on the forum, you have Great Danes. I’m not expecting to need to put pants on something that weighs less than thirty pounds and presumably has appropriately teeny ooze-producing female parts. Ask me next autumn or thereabouts when she comes in season again. At the moment I couldn’t keep pants on her if I wanted to: she’d chew them off. She’s still in a collar rather than a harness because she still doesn’t sit particularly still for having same put on, and I therefore leave it on all day (it comes off after the last brief night hurtle). She can’t reach the collar. She’d chew the body band of a harness off with great dispatch. Which is another reason—aside from her present interesting condition—that I’m not pursuing my experiments in having her clipped into the seatbelt next to the hellhound box in Wolfgang.
‡‡‡ Ravelry, for example, as some of you know. Also the Rowan yarn site. This for some reason amuses me. Probably because Rowan is so earnestly fashionable. Did I tell you that my Big Wool arrived, for my heart jumper? It is very pretty. And the yarn is deliciously soft. If any of you are considering a similar purchase.
I thought I’d ordered a swift and nostepinne. But two days went by and there was no reply to my email. Whimper. Here you are trying to support local/indie talent and not order from frelling amazon and THEY DON’T ANSWER.
They answered. Today. There was a spam bin involved. WELL OF COURSE THERE WAS A SPAM BIN INVOLVED. THIS IS WHAT SPAM BINS DO, IS EAT GOOD MAIL AND LET THE TOXIC GARBAGE THROUGH.*
I now have a swift and nostepinne coming. But the indie talent are still a business, drat them, and they’re not sending them out till MONDAY. Monday is three days away. And then it still has to get here.
I spent a good deal of the afternoon in the garden again, working off Lack of Swift.*** There’s a rather unfortunate Spending Time in the Garden Syndrome however. You’re not a big bedding plant person—you’ve already let the labour-intensive thing get out of control by having too many roses, you don’t need bedding plants too—you’re a mental case of course, gardeners are, but you have no illusions about ‘tidy’ or ‘design’. Stuff goes in where there’s room† and the weeds are really healthy because the one thing you are usually pretty good about is feeding. So you look at the labyrinthine wilderness out there and you think, all I really need is a few good days.
The garden at the cottage is tiny. All I need is a few not-freezing, not-raining afternoons—!
Wrong. The more you do the more you see. And the more you see the more you DESPAIR. Having got most of the urgent stuff potted up or potted on††, the most hostile of the roses tied ferociously back††† and (semi) pruned as necessary, I was reduced to WEEDING today. I actually like weeding‡ but when the forest of ground elder closes over your head and the enchanters’ nightshade twines up your ankles and pulls you down—and enchanters’ nightshade grows fast enough to do this, if you stay somewhere too long, levering up wild poppies or creeping buttercup or those black-leaved pansies that look so cute and innocent and have long almost-invisible roots reaching to China or possibly Mars—AAAAAAAUGH. I’d rather be winding hanks of yarn.
What’s the weather this weekend? I should probably hoover the floor indoors before my friend arrives on Monday. Just don’t let me notice how much else I should be doing. . . .
* * *
* Griselda is in Pago Pago and all her money has been stolen and would I please transfer the entire contents of my bank account to the Evil Scam Holding Syndicate so she can get a glass of water?^ But . . . but . . . I had a cup of tea with her yesterday afternoon and she didn’t say anything about Pago Pago. There must be some mistake. . . .
^ Which is about what the entire contents of my bank account would be worth. Tourist traps are expensive.
** NOW. NOW. I WANT THEM NOW. —You know I’m expecting a mere eight-months’-old puppy to calm down and stop being a manic git. Clearly we were made for each other.^
^ Hellhounds open one eye. Possibly one eye each. Does whatever this thing is run? Can we chase it? —I think a swift on end given a push downhill might canter a bit.
*** Stop laughing. Hmmph.
† And sometimes when there isn’t. That’s where the tiered effect comes in handy.
†† Although it’s been a bad season for mail-order errors. The usual response of big on-line gardening sites is ‘keep it and we’ll send you the right one.’ Or ones. I didn’t actually want four hundred and twelve osteospermums or nine hundred and sixty apple blossom geraniums, some of which actually are apple blossom geraniums, and which are all going like thunder and will need somewhere to put their roots down soon. I was poised to send the sellers photos of their errors as evidence but they must have a certain percentage of goofs built into the system. Do they keep track of who protests? Do they put tick marks against your name? Or merely fry in oil the staff responsible for the blip that caused Hampshire to be carpeted in non-apple-blossom geraniums?
And of course, like every other year, I am waiting breathlessly to see how many of my dahlia cuttings grow up to be what I ordered. I go on ordering them because they’re so much cheaper than tubers—and the awful truth is that I rarely have a cutting failure, while my tubers rather too often decide that the accommodations don’t suit them, they were looking for something a little more up market, with designer chocolate on the pillow and free wifi. But cuttings are wildly unreliable in their own fabulous way. Up to about a quarter of the frellers are anything but what you ordered. It does make you wonder, speaking of staff, what the staff are, you know, smoking.
††† That faint unfriendly humming noise you hear, like a nest of wasps in a bad mood, is the sound of various whippy-stemmed roses with known violent tendencies gnawing through their restraints.^
^ I am still sad I didn’t get around to buying the ‘some days it’s not worth gnawing through the restraints’ t shirt before they inexplicably cut it. There are still cheap knock offs available—and one of these days when it’s not worth gnawing through the restraints I will probably buy one—but this one was a QUALITY t shirt.
‡ There’s a quote out there somewhere that I am failing to google into confirmation, that says something like ‘No one is a gardener who doesn’t like weeding’ which is just a specific-object version of one of the quotes on the blog’s quote thingy: ‘The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.’ Yep. You don’t like rewriting, don’t be a writer. Anthony Trollope may have got away with turning in his beautiful copperplate handwritten first drafts to his publisher, but you and I won’t. Aside from the beautiful copperplate part.
It’s the third of frelling May and I am planting stuff out. And we’re not going to have any more frosts, okay? Yes? Okay?
I’ve also taken the plastic sheet off the Winter Table over the hellhound crate in the kitchen, and I’m going to ask Atlas to take it DOWN on Monday.*
They have seriously not liked the last fortnight or so of still being stuck in their potting-up pots. I am hoping they won’t waste a lot of good growing time sulking. I bought a different range of sweet peas this year and I’m going to have no idea how they measure up against previous standards because it’s been such a weird, not to say bloody-minded, year so far.
The clematis they will be climbing through is just old basic durandii, but some of the old basic ones of things are the best. She is herbaceous–not clinging–so you do have to give her string to drape herself over, but she produces cascades of that clematis dark indigo-purple coloured little curly flowers. Although this brings up a little problem with the sweet peas. There was a Terrible Accident soon after delivery and while I know what sweet peas I bought I have no idea which is which. This year’s colour scheme may be a trifle unusual.
You can’t tell much from the photo but since it’s me you might hazard that the long bare stem in the big round pot is a rose. Yup. Mortimer Sackler and she’s almost as good as her hype. She might possibly do with more leaves however (I mean even after she gets going) and last year was adorable with sweet peas climbing up her. Barring accidents of a colour variety, as referred to above, I hope to repeat the effect this year. The clematis in the pot at the back is Fuji-musume and has the most amazing big flat blue flowers: the catalogue description is ‘Wedgewood blue’. I’ve never seen anything like it on a clematis.
I love double primroses, of course, because they look like rose roses. I have a lot of doubles. I also have a million volunteer cowslips, including, this year, two rusty-red ones. I thought wild volunteer cowslips were always yellow.
And if you have to move them, or if you just think to dig them up, you can break them gently in pieces and have several primroses. I’ve got half a dozen clumps of yellow around the garden and they’re all from a single original. Oh, and the naked (rose) stem in this picture is the Herbalist.
You may correctly gather that barring frelling roses I do tend to have a lot of what is happy to grow around here. Although this is considered a good rose-growing area, roses may always take some persuading.
Berenice Perfection, if you’re counting. Camellias are an enigma. I treat them all the same, and they either thrive like mad or die. I have no idea. I do know that if you have a dry end of summer you’re likely to lose a lot of next spring’s flowers, but I’ve usually forgotten by next spring. It must have been okay last August because most of my camellias are flowering exuberantly. I’m going to try to get a few more pictures, but thanks to the beastly weather a lot of the flowers have been frosted. Berenice happens to be both huge and in a corner so she has more flowers and more shelter.
We had this one at the old house and she’s one of the first to flower and I always loved her but I got the idea that she was hard to grow and I dithered for years before I bought one. This is her third year and she . . . looks pretty happy.
And because I have one photo slot left, let’s have another Markham’s Pink. (Note that she is a very purple pink, but she is definitely pink. Pinker than these photos.) Looking at her and primroses and unfrosted petunias** and sweet peas makes me smile. It’s a good day: both hellhounds ate dinner.
* * *
* Although this also has to do with hoping to find a better hellterror solution at the cottage than what I have at present. She should have a view.
** Next photo post. I planted some of them out today too.