Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Mellow But Too Fruitful

Isn't is rather wonderful that most things mellow with age.
Even our irascible selves.
Even a vase of flowers.

It looks even prettier at the end of it's life than it did at the beginning.

The only thing that doesn't seem to mellow is my garden.
It is like a perpetually unruly toddler, filled with boundless energy and only waiting for my back to be turned to do exactly what it likes.

I am exhausted by my garden.
I love it, as presumably one loves one's toddler - however naughty. But it wipes me out.
After a month of ceaseless work, one tiny patch feels vaguely tamed - although once the rain returns even that will soon prove to have been an illusion.

Having - by some thoughtless oversight on the part of my parents - only one pair of hands, the other 95% of the garden is, so far, untouched. But even now it is summoning up all its newly awakened zest for life, and is gathering strength to burst forth with whatever it feels like growing.
I wonder what it will produce as 'This Year's Weed - DaDah!'
Not verbena bonariensis or papaver orientalis, I don't suppose, and needless to say, yet again, I will not be consulted in any of its decisions.

It is at times like these that one needs comfort.

Like many people, I keep a pile of books beside my bed.
It tends to grow rather than diminish, as I am very bad at moving on the ones I have read - there is always some quote I'm intending to copu out, or else I simply forget to put them back on the shelf.
The In-Charge once asked, very politely (all things considered), if I could deal with the pile, as he hadn't been able to hoover on my side of the bed. As I redistributed them, I counted.
73 books. I was shocked, but also pleasantly surprised to know that 73 books could be accommodated in such a relatively small space.
It gave me hope for when we come to 'downsize'.

The pile of books is a great comfort.
There is always some treasure to soothe my troubled mind or drown my woes in balm.
And of course, I never put all the books back on the shelf. One or two have to stay within handy reach, and this is the one I am reaching for now.

As you can see, it is well-thumbed

It never fails to lift my spirits when the garden reminds me who's boss, or gets uppity.
Which is surprising really, as it is full of magnificent pictures of magnificent gardens where not a weed dare show its face.

Come here to me, as they say in Ireland, and I'll give you a few tasters - several from France and one from America:

Words (for once) fail me

I gave up longing for this when I learned how many hours of sunshine a day irises need to thrive

I want this house just as much as I'd like the garden, so let me know when you're moving out Michel

Perfection. And if anyone has an urn like this that they don't want anymore, please get in touch.

But it doesn't really matter that these gardens are perfect in every detail.
That they each have - no doubt - teams of devoted tenders who pick up every stray leaf and tenderly clip the box hedges before breakfast, lift the tulips after elevenses and sow more peas in the afternoon. That because there are no weeds, it only takes a stroll around at dusk, glass in hand, to check for unwelcome arrivals in any of the flowerbeds.

I suppose it is more about aspiration and inspiration.
About the triumph of imagination over reality.
It is about rekindling the essence of your passion.
And I guess it's cheaper to drown your woes in balm than in champagne.

So if there are any garden-lovers out there, hie thee hence to your local bookshop and order a copy.
Give yourself a well-earned break.

Fashion Designers' Gardens

by Francis Dorleans, photographs by Claire de Virieu
ISBN: 9 780304 354375
My copy published by Cassell & Co


  1. I lingered with those magazines and books when first we moved here. I dreamed of wonderful cottage gardens, with flowers freely redistributing themselves at their will. I did not think about getting older, or the time and effort the gardens would take. Or weeds. Now my gardens are more weed beds, having a life of their own. A life of which I do not approve. Oh my.

    1. Hi Carol - how nice to see you! It's depressing isn't it, when nature takes back its own, and you just don't have enough time or energy or whatever-it-takes to deal with it anymore. Mind you, I often think that after 20 years in the place my garden ought to be tickety-boo by now, I should just be wandering around dead-heading.
      What went wrong?!

  2. What beautiful gardens. If it's any help my garden is a swamp. It seems to be full of frogs and nothing else!

  3. well what do I say Lorely ... .your garden always looks so pretty ... now and also 10 years ago and to be honest your house gives me the impression like that stunning French stonehouse ... you are not far from it - in my eyes. My gardens around our cottage go through poorly years, where its all wild and wet and chickens breaking in and goats stripping every green leaf available - but this year thanks to some of your rootlings I try to improve it a little bit... your vase with the hyacinths and tulips looks like you were at 'Lidls' ... I have the same flowers on my kitchen table only with yellow tulips :)

    1. Thank you Tina - that is very encouraging! I think in you own garden you only ever see all the jobs that need to be done!
      I hope the plants you got flourish and don't get eaten by the goats!
      Yes, good old Lidl!

  4. Ah beautiful!
    I shall resist the book, partly becasue of space issues, and agree with Tina that your own garden always seems to me idyllic, as does your house. :)

    1. Thank you Isobel. Yes, I sound ungracious, which is bad, because both are beautiful. I just wish I had more time, or energy, or hands, or money, or all of those!!


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