Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Hope’s gentle gem…

The garden is becoming very blue with bluebells beginning to scent the air and the forget-me-not (myosotis) in abundance. The personal emblem of Henry of Lancaster, it was believed that whosoever wore myosotis would never be forgotten. It was Coleridge, in his poem The Keepsake, a poem of sadness, who referred to -

Forget-me-nots nestling in the border

That blue and bright-eyed flower of 
the brook,
Hope’s gentle gem, the sweet Forget-me-not’.

It grows in other parts of Europe where it is loved in the same way as the English love the violet and the primrose. Myosotis, or mouse ear, is so called because the small, woolly leaves resemble mouse ears. Biennial, it contrasts well in the cottage garden with tulips and polyanthus and despite liking moist soil it grows and seeds with gay abandon in my rather dry borders.

In my allotment I treated as a weed as it sprouts everywhere – a weed is apparently defined as a plant growing in the wrong place! Even so, I do leave a random area between the sunflowers and the globe artichokes (grown to admire rather than to harvest) and allow the delicate flowers to self-seed at will, a pleasing contrast to the dark greens of the spring vegetables in their rather uniform rows.

Twinges in my back remind me that allotment digging may be good exercise but it necessitates an ever longer soak in a hot bath these days, despite being both invigorating and satisfying.

I do definitely concur with Jane Loudon, however, who, on the subject of Victorian lady gardeners in her book Gardening for Ladies written in 1840, wrote ‘She, (the female gardener)  will not only have the satisfaction of seeing the garden being created, as it were, by her own hands, but she will find her health and spirits wonderfully improved by the exercise and by the reviving smell of the fresh earth’.

The author had obviously not experienced allotment digging!)


A plant with flowers that remind one of the forget-me-not, and one in which I delight at this time of year is the omphalodes (Venus navel-wort). Another favourite of the cottage garden, its flowers are a brilliant blue, hence its common name of Bright-eyed Mary. It grows merrily in both sun and shade and spreads to make a wonderful carpet of blue in March and April and makes an excellent companion plant when grown together with some of the spring bulbs.

Such a wonderful time of year when, as in the style of Picasso, the garden’s ‘blue period’ most definitely lifts the spirits- Pablo cat agrees wholeheartedly!

Pablo guarding the front door

1 comment:

  1. I love 'the blue period' in the garden - its my favourite - the bluebell woods near the Botanic Gardens are just beautiful at the moment and well worth a walk especially for those who don't have blubells in the garden