I should have. I didn’t. Je regrette tout.
Yesterday I attended, along with Hero and OH, the local Plant Heritage lecture day and lunch at Marwood Hill Gardens. I listened intently, notebook in hand, to talks on scented shrubs and later about botanising in Madagascar. I even remembered to pack my specs so I could actually see the slide show. I wandered around the garden for a meagre hour, enjoying bluebells and magnolias. I scoffed my lunch, including a rather fine mixed fruit crumble and custard, and made new acquaintances. I possibly heckled the Officer in Charge of Raffle Drawing and then won two books (one on rhodies and one about growing fruit. All rather wonderful. But before all this had begun, there was another important job to be completed. Yes, you’ve guess it, shopping! In true plant hunter style I tasered the opposition and perused the fine wares on the plant table.
The result of which is that I have bought another inappropriate plant. There was no deception involved, I knew just what I was buying. I have killed one before. Lachenalia quadricolor, the four-coloured opal flower. Its natural habitat is in crevices of granite outcrops throughout the Western Cape of South Africa. And it will not tolerate frost. What could possibly go wrong? But just look at it, surely not one of you could have resisted!?
I may also have bought a trillium.
It is time to indulge in a little healthy recollection. Let me take you back to a sweltering June day. I was visiting a good friend in Somerset and we had taken a trip to the Bishop’s Palace in Wells. The gardens were bountiful, seemingly not suffering from the unfamiliar sultry weather. From the herbaceous borders to the vegetable gardens all was lush and lovely. There were enough other visitors to make it a sociable occasion but not too many to be intrusive. The heat ensured meandering rather than rushing, enforcing a more leisurely tempo and therefore a more enjoyable journey. Afterwards we rested at the edge of the wide rill, that fed from the spring to the moat, and dangled our appreciative feet in the cool water. Perfect.
My mind has been on overdrive. Not bad thoughts, just a noisy constant irritating chatter that I can’t seem to tame. I am having trouble getting to sleep and waking late with a headache. This will not do. Sleep is my specialist subject, I have never had trouble with it before. The number one suspect is lack of exercise. Although I have been trying to get out and about, going for short but leisurely walks, I fear these have not been enough.
This morning I did a little yoga, trying very hard to silence the nattering, with limited success. Then after lunch I set off on my own, intent on striding up and around Hillsborough, the rugged hill between ourselves and the sea. Both ancient hill fort and nature reserve, we are very lucky to have it almost literally on our doorstep. It was chilly, with intermittent blusters of rain, but long before I had got to the top I rued wearing quite so many clothes. Three quarters of an hour later I stepped back in the house, flushed and thirsty. Good medicine.
What was to be done on this wet and miserable day? Why not head off to the woods? Hero, OH and myself went to visit Rambling Ron. Although we had heard tales of Ron’s few acres of woodland on the edge of the village, none of us had ever visited. Rumours of a newly dug pond heralded a self-invite. As arranged he was waiting in the road to direct us up the rough lane to the entrance of his land. “I didn’t think you were going to come” he said. “We are not fair weathers” we replied. We wandered along the grassy way, fern flanked, cautiously made our way down a slippery slope, stepping over mossy fallen trees to the virgin pond. It is fed by a spring that flows from a rocky outcrop higher in the wood. Native planting has begun around the margins, there is more planned. “Wildlife will come” we said, “It has already” he replied pointing out a deer print at the edge of the pond. If we have a hot summer Ron may well find some other wildlife in this large pond. Myself and Hero have already been planning our wild swimming forays.
Naturally we had packed provisions for our road trip. We stood at the head of the lane supping warm tea and coffee and scoffing stollen, all the while listening to tales of these woods. Promising to come again when the bluebells begin flowering, we headed home to warm up with home-made broccoli and stilton soup, buttered sourdough bread for dunking.
This pathway caught my eye and my imagination. Next time, hopefully a little more sure on my feet, I will find out what lies beyond the fallen tree arch.
This morning I went for a walk, slowly and carefully, around the gardens of Chambercombe Manor. It was mizzling and muddy, but I placed each step with caution, and managed a much longer walk than I had first envisaged. The camellia were full of fat buds, there was a lone flower on the hypericum, the cornus was laden with succulent baubles and the prostrate rosemary was heavy with dewy flowers. As we walked I distributed our stale bread and soft apples under shrubs and in borders, an early Christmas present for the wild things. Soon I will be running, that’s for sure.
Happy Christmas you lovelies! Hope you have the best time possible. I will see you on the other side.
My yearly trawl through reams of digital photos, deleting and labelling as I go, has begun early. Not only does this attempt to impose some kind of order into my life give the illusion that I am in control, it also gives me an opportunity to share some of these snaps and the reminisces they invoke. And I don’t have to go outside.
This picture of brace of crab apples was taken on a December meander around the gardens of Chambercombe Manor, not far from where we live. I do love a crab apple and often recommend them when asked for advice on a small tree for the garden. Beautiful blossom, abundant fruit, good autumn colour, wildlife friendly with few pests or diseases to ruin the party. Near perfect.