It’s the weirdest thing. You grow vegetables in order to eat them, right? How is it, then, that when the time comes to pick, the knife can hover over them, poised for the kill, but waver in vacillation?
I’m just back from Nelmac Garden Marlborough – a garden festival like no other, based in Blenheim, in the Northern-most part of the South Island of New Zealand.
I boldly state ‘like no other’ for two reasons.
I’ve watched flowering cherries come and go for over thirty years. For most of that time I’ve accepted the brevity of their flowering without ever having taken notes or any other records in order to establish exactly how long the flowering lasts. The best I could do was guess, and from memory I’d have estimated two to three weeks, depending on the weather, and that in certain conditions it might be as little as three days. But I’ve learned not to trust my memory.
It’s a big moment for me: the moment of the flowering of Tulipa batalinii.
Imagine a world before screens, when all images depended on reflected rather than penetrant light (OK, OK, except those in stained-glass windows). Go back earlier and imagine a world before photography, when all illustrations were drawn, painted etc, and the best depictions of flowers were the astonishing – but undeniably flat and matte – water-coloured lithographs of Curtis Botanical magazine.
Its that time of year when even the most depressing of hardware garden centres is underservedly graced, for just a few weeks, with the ambrosial – the paradisiacal – the entirely matchless – scent of boronia.
Well, I’m off to Italy for a few weeks.
I stumbled upon a quote yesterday by a guy who had apparently never liked jazz until an occasion when he watched a jazz muso playing with his eyes closed, in visible bliss. He concludes “Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It’s as if they are showing you the way”.
It’s hard to face. Difficult to accept. But it’s time for a new wheelbarrow.
I was making a hasty departure from Longwood a few weeks back, and with no time to take a proper look at the excellent shop near the exit, snatched up a book on meadows near the door. After a very quick flick and a glance at the price I shoved a copy and the right cash into the hands of one of my group who happened to be near the front of the checkout queue.
Flowers are pretty thin around here right now. I’m gagging for a bit of colour. A couple of years back I wrote about adding inorganic colour to your garden, but for some reason (can’t think why) I never included paint.
I’ve received two seed catalogues in the mail in the last couple of weeks. The Diggers Seed Annual and the Lambley Nursery Seed Manual. They’re almost identical in size and glossiness etc, but couldn’t be more different in their underlying philosophy, particularly in regard to their vegetable seeds.