What do you Love?

 

It’s Valentines day tomorrow.

Tell me what you love

I’ll start by giving love to the 2 stalwarts of my garden, who thrive and shine no matter what.

Both of these beauties have been known to throw seasons out the window, and stick with us long after they’re supposed to.

Primroses in their giant glorious crowns – always the first to arrive, (never be surprised when they pop a dosey head or two for Christmas, or one memorable year – for Halloween!)

And heather, who constantly show their colours. They say heather is for luck, protection and passion, and maybe it’s the Scottish side in me, but the garden never looks barren with a swathe of these delicate, tiny bells. I’d love to try growing it into a tree one of these days! Imagine that…

‘Words are easy, like the wind; faithful friends are hard to find’

                                                                 – William Shakespeare

 

Heather and Primroses

In the Belly – Feb Thoughts

 

There’s something very kind and gentle about the light in February.

 

Chrysanth in Glow

 

I’m inspired to avoid my beastly lists of jobs TO DO, in favour of a loving list of habits to form. Like wandering around in the lengthening evenings, plucking hapless green shoots from the spots where they shouldn’t be…

(Gardening can be terribly violent at times, can’t it?)

This month of course is the month of love, and mysterious ancient rites of deep-cleaning the homes, hearth and heart. It is the month when the lambs arrive, bleating and gambling and tripping over themselves with new-born joy. It is the month when we might see the sun again, if only to kiss our noses and briskly hurry back into its winter bed.

 

 

It is a gentle, beautiful month. Joyful birthdays, (is anything sweeter than the gift of sisters?), and Nirvana Day, and Pancake Day, and the beginning of Lent.

We have moons with names like Ice Moon, Snow Moon, Storm Moon, but the frozen nights still offer up a cool-silk cushion of constellations on display, so we can look up and wonder. Venus has already caught me by surprise several afternoons this week – look out for her dancing round the moon before 9pm most nights this month. She’s got her eye on you…

Things happen slowly in these parts. Our snowdrops haven’t burst, our Daffodils barely lifting their necks. But there’s still signs of life.

February’s beauty lies in its discrete and subtle art. I’m a big fan.

 

All photos by Notes from a Compulsive Gardener

9th Jan 2020: Not dead, just dormant…

When I titled my last post Preparing to Move Indoors, I didn’t think I was being literal… but I guess the old adage is true, you become the things you spend the most time with, so I went dormant. From the outside at least, on the inside… wowsers.

Most winter rituals involve a great deal of plotting and planning – fantasising over seed catalogues and drawing out new areas to be renovated and transformed. I haven’t done that yet this year, and last night I dreamt that hundreds of bulbs suddenly appeared in the garden overnight, and there were purple tulips and bright gold something-or-others trying to push their heads out through carpets of thick frilly weeds, and I woke up thinking, ‘okay garden, I got the message, thanks. I’ll think about you more in the front part of the brain.’

It sends missives and emissaries like this: a cackling magpie to make me glance outside; a particularly loud dawn bird tapping its stubby little beak on my old crumbling window frame; leopard-printed slugs coming up through the kitchen sink. Little passive-aggressive callers from the wild.

You might say I should change my name – that no compulsive gardening has been in evidence over these past months – but that would suggest a rather narrow view of exactly what gardening means… 😉

 

All Photos by Yamtan for Notes from a Compulsive Gardener

Garden thoughts…

Sometimes I think I ought to stop referring to myself as a gardener. So much of the work I’ve occupied myself with has made planting a mere afterthought recently – a luxury to be indulged in when the real work’s done, and I find myself sitting with seed packets in hand, not quite remembering what to do.

But here I have the little greenhouse shelves, all ready and waiting for a much more orderly way of going about things. There’s no more heavy lifting to do. No more vast complexes of roots to get stuck into. I feel strangely light and a little disoriented – where are my tools? my weights and measures, by which I’ve eeked out the days? This is all so light and frivolous…

 

purple-foxglove-digitalis-corn-snapdragon-from-botanical-prints-by-h.-isabel-adams-1907.jpg

Purple Foxglove Digitalis, Corn Snapdragon from Botanical prints by H. Isabel Adams 1907

 

I wanted to write about my favourite plants. Those childhood playmates; the foxgloves wavering in the afternoon sun, the roses that tore open my thigh when I was just young enough for it to mean something ritual, magical, sacred. I wanted to write about the herbs glimpsed in a grubby book, nicotine-stained by my grandfather’s armchair, and his beautiful metered handwriting on blue paper, spelling out words that meant nothing more to me at the time than any foreign language, except they were big, meaty words – the opposite of the familiar (primrose, petunia, allyssum – those feminine words with all that bite behind them). Slipped between the pages of his Egyptology books, I thought they must have been related. Chrysanthemums – Asteraceae – white pom-poms stuffed into the mouths of mummified God-corpses. Jars of amber, floating flower-heads, twisting roots, Darwinian specimens of something other than ordinary life.

From mysterious words, to drawn blood on the pathway – to a book chanced upon in a teacher’s office (who had an old wash-pot planted with woodland flowers and a Culpepper’s Herbal set out for reference or atmosphere) – an old lady teaching us our native tongue, catching a bee in her soft, padded palm to let it out of the window without the least concern… ‘he knows exactly what I’m doing’ .

 

Ao Matsuda

Ao Matsuda, tattoo artist

 

Now I keep planting purple things – as if the bees aren’t so much reading my mind as forcefully putting things into it. Verbena, scabeous, foxgloves and dianthus – open-hearted flowers that waft perfume and line up landing strips of leopard print salutations and welcomes. The bees who follow me around, sometimes resting on my bare brown shoulders with their little trousers laden with yellow swag.

A wild swarm descended one afternoon, and I’m ashamed of myself for running, but the noise was alarming, and I’ve never met one before, and I have a guilty conscience – the bees know everything, after all.

I wanted to write about particular plants – but there’s no such thing – no such thing as isolation in nature. Everything tumbles in, everything hangs on to the thing before and the thing coming after. We’re all so interwoven, if you pull one thread we all unravel.

They are all my favourite things in the garden.

Sometimes you just have to remember what a gardener really is.

Autumn: A Retrospective

 

Time scampers by us light-footed, while we are busy doing work. It was only this morning as I opened my curtains to an inexplicable dusting of white snow that I realised: Autumn has come headlong through its part, and I’ve not made comment on it here.

I haven’t missed a minute of it in the real world – I watch the leaves fastidiously, I rummage about for fungi, I even swift-finger my way through the seasonal crafts and chores, watching the skies for our departing friends, but it all swoops so quickly towards the Mid-Winter chaos, and I forget, sometimes, to take a moment.

So, here is one bright quilt of Autumn: a retrospective of the season in which I’m always happily too busy to whistle! I’ve planted trees, I’ve hand-dug landscaping mistakes of the past, I’ve repaired windows and painted walls – and I’m still pulling up that infernal bush thicket, which I thought would be a nice job to get my teeth into two years ago…

I’ve sown seeds and planted bulbs, but for now, colour.

 

All photos by The Compulsive Gardener

Fall Song by Mary Oliver

Another year gone, leaving everywhere
its rich spiced residues: vines, leaves,

the uneaten fruits crumbling damply
in the shadows, unmattering back

from the particular island
of this summer, this NOW, that now is nowhere

except underfoot, mouldering
in that black subterranean castle

of unobservable mysteries – roots and sealed seeds
and the wanderings of water. This

I try to remember when time’s measure
painfully chafes, for instance when autumn

flares out at the last, boisterous and like us longing
to stay – how everything lives, shifting

from one bright vision to another, forever
in these momentary pastures.

A Cheeky Look Back at Spring…