Entries in flowers (2)


faded beauty

In my eyes, hydrangeas are at their best now, their sometimes brash colours faded to softness. At home I have them in jugs, drying slowly, to appreciate their papery beauty for a few weeks longer. Not a fashionable plant, my attachment is sentimental.

They remind me of summer trips back to my grandparents' house, leaving the humid heat and yellow of a Canadian summer for the cooler air and colours of England. Sprawling mop-headed hydrangeas lined the front gardens of the avenue they lived on, hanging heavily over the brick walls that bordered the pavement. As I wove my way to the local shops each day with my grandmother, I pondered whether to prefer the blue or the pink. The fading of the flower heads marked the approach of going back home. And while I was itching to get back to my friends and my own little world, I'd by this time grown fond of the rhythm of days with my grandparents: the rituals of meals, walks, butcher and sweet shop.  

A dried flower-head: a gateway to memory. 


desperate measures

Looking onto a steel grey sky with rain pouring straight down and heavy, it seems I need to take matters into my own hands. Gardening being central to our lives, we are friends of rain. We appreciate that each day the world is getting greener. But precious, life affirming blooms are also being defeated and bent sadly towards the ground they spent so much time getting clear of.

So it's out with the secateurs and in with the blooms. A bunch of ludicrously blowsy but delicately fragrant peonies. A few darkly red, modestly proportioned roses that fill a room with their rich perfume by the evening. And last night John brought back the first, intensely fragrant sweet peas. Some have evolved into a particularly attention-seeking neon coral that doesn't seem quite the thing, but for their scent and brightness in the gloom I'll forgive them anything.

I'm also peppering my notebooks with flowers, even digging out the watercolours, inspired by brand new but long lost brushes I found tucked down the back of the desk. Something like this perhaps? And I still have Emin's embroidered flowers urging me to get back to stitching. I have the fabric, the ideas and the thread and, from next week, a little more time.

So, I've determined it will be summer inside if I can't have the real thing. I'll pretend the blazing wood burner is actually a summer campfire and sing along with Minnie (although I'll probably have a bit of a distracted cough when it comes to the difficult up and down bits.)