Unjust, I know, as my own paeonies are flowering their little pink hearts out.
Despite the rain.
|What you can't see in this picture is the gold at the centre of the flower|
|Sarah Bernhardt strutting her stuff|
But on our recent trip to Salthill Garden in Donegal, the paeonies would have struck lust into the hearts of all but the most saintly.
We nearly wore them out with looking at them.
Elizabeth Temple, their owner, could have told us the name of each and every one. But unfortunately, she wasn't at home that day. She'd been kind enough to warn me, and even suggested we come another day, but it was the only time I was free.
She is extremely knowledgeable and I daresay would have had all their Latin and colloquial names off pat.
Like this one
And particularly this one
But it wouldn't have done any good. My friend and I have looked - believe me, we have looked in all the garden centres, but there is no Bowl of Beauty to be found locally. Nor any of the other ones we saw (though names would help, I'm sure).
Sadly, I have to confess that it's not just paeony envy that plagues me.
While we were in Paris, we went to see Monet's garden. It was our 900th wedding anniversary and, as I have long wanted to visit Giverny, I couldn't think of a better way to spend it. Happily the In-Charge was agreeable.
|Monet's house at Giverny from the lily pond|
I had not taken the crowds of other visitors into account, I must say.
In fact, I hadn't really thought about it, but I suppose I imagined us strolling, arm in arm, along the flower-lined paths as if we owned the place.
I am evidently not alone in knowing that late May is garden-visiting-time.
As we set off, de bonne heure on Sunday morning, the In-Charge commented acidly on how full the train was, but I cleverly remembered that it was Mother's Day in France. 'They're all heading home to their Mamas,' I said brightly. 'Isn't that nice!'
It only dawned on me as the train emptied ontoVernon platform, that all and sundry were bent upon sharing our day out.
There were four full coach loads from the station, and that didn't include people who had arrived under their own steam, so to speak, or on other bus trips.
However, I sternly repudiated the In-Charge's hopeful suggestion that we board the next train back to Paris, and actually, although there were a lot of people, the gardens are big enough to swallow them up and we didn't feel crowded - except on the famous bridge over the lily pond.
It was worth every moment of queueing to get in.
We had, sadly, just missed most of the famed tulips, but the wisteria was in full, hyperbolic bloom.
|The famous bridge over the lily pond|
|Luscious beyond belief|
And so were the flags.
|Look - there's a paeony in bud beside the flag. I need to go back there - now!|
I have wisteria.
It doesn't garland a bridge over a lily pond, admittedly, but even so, I do get my wisteria fix every spring.
But I don't have flags. Not really.
Not rows and rows of glorious, wonderful, beautiful flags.
My friend - with whom I visited Salthill - and I pored over a French catalogue a few years ago, from a nursery that specialises in flags and irises. We drooled, we ooh'd and we aah'd, and I eagerly jotted down the names of all the plants I couldn't possibly live without.
The bill added up to about €187 - before shipping - so with deep regret I threw the catalogue away.
'We don't have enough sunshine, in any case,' I tried to console myself. 'They need hours or sun every day to flower properly.'
But I am not really consoled
Deep down I want a walkway in my garden lined with flags, preferably on either side.
Like Pierre Berge's garden in Deauville.
Like Monet's garden at Giverny.
Like the Tuileries gardens in Paris.
Or failing that, a purple border (with flags in it).
|A purple border at Giverny|
Is that too much to ask?
It's all I want.
Well - apart from the paeonies.
And I'm rather envious of Monet's pansies too...