"Pure style is my way of life... a blueprint for living in the 21st Century"
10 June 2016
9th June 3pm: the garden basks in afternoon heat and light. Days like this in our hit and miss summers are precious, as all worthwhile things are. The bees are here again, feasting on the fluffy alliums and there`s a haze of blue nigella magic from a packet of seeds. Blue and purple, purple and green: summer colour pairs which work so naturally and beautifully. Framing the left and right borders lush green and pink, the usual, but never taken for granted , bowing and flopping roses are sweet with soap scent..
When the garden is looking as heavenly as it is at the moment I have no huge need to spread my wings in search of new excitement. ( Although I would rather like to go dancing....... ) This week it is our clever lodger Jeffrey`s birthday and there is cake for tea and all the gorgeous purples and greens of early summer to mark the occasion.
Lucky to have the last fading tulip petals (they`re edible!) to decorate a chocolate Victoria sponge using the recipe from my cookbook, and to enjoy it against a garden canvas of alliums and lime green lavender and lemon balm leaves: one of my favourite colour pairings.
See how a purple/green combination works in printed floral cotton: a remnant used to patch one of my chidren`s jeans pocket.
I`m as besotted with my garden as the bees are sated on sweet nectar from the starry alliums. It feels almost electric with activity: bursting glossy pink roses, voluptuous peonies shedding brilliant carpets of petals and crowds of bees, enough, if there were such a thing for a bee club night. I get up close, eye to bee pollen sack with black and white striped ones, fat yellow ones, small bobbly hairy ones, brown fluffy types as if they`d had a cut and blow dry.
Growing, budding, flowering, seeding on a still warm June afternoon the garden seems more dynamic than the brains in any government think tank. Only joking, but as George Eliot suggested "If we could hear the squirrel`s heartbeat, the sound of the grass growing, we should die of that roar" .
The garden soothes, me with its it`s distractions and needs. What better way than to work off writers block or parking ticket annoyance with the physicality and sense of purpose that an hour`s weeding gives. The fact that nature is ambiguous, that she is neither all good nor all bad, that she gives as well as takes away, also puts life outside the garden into perspective. Contentment with green fly free roses, fury at the bullet headed snails who strafe the rocket, it`s all about the ups and downs and the getting on with what is thrown at you. A dancing in the rain approach., rather than waiting for the storm to pass I suppose.
Pink rose love: gorgeous Constance Spry with a scent that almost knocks you out in a perfumed stupor. I cut them for a jug on the table and take bundles tied with string to friends` as a summer offering.
I`m glad I ditched climbing beans having lost them to slugs over the last two summers, and went for the sweet pea option to pole dance around the wigwams of willow sticks. Snug in their flowerpots in the shed at the bottom of the garden they began to sprout towards the light way back in the winter. In early may I prepared their summer beds with shovels of home produced compost and set about planting. For the first week so it was touch and go as to whether they would survive - the leaves went pale and flabby as if they were homesick . I think that the energy was going into putting down strong roots and sure enough, they`re leaping skywards now and putting out brilliant bursts of scented colour.
Each summer, my mum`s peonies, lifted from her garden after she died, produce more and more pink memories of her and my
On the subject of the colour purple, it`s the most wonderful colour to go with the greens of the garden. Purple alliums, as you might have noticed are my latest crush. I could never have predicted this after been subjected to years of school uniform in a particularly brash shade of the colour , which topped with a hideous purple berets marked us out as targets for ridicule at the wild and untamed bus stops of South London.