Saturday, 28 July 2012

Frocks of silk

We are slumberous poppies,
Lords of Lethe downs ...

Poppies for remembrance

 The poppy is the flower of sleep and oblivion. According to Greek legend it was created by the god of sleep, Somnus, to soothe Ceres, the corn goddess, to sleep. When she had rested the corn grew again, giving rise to the belief that poppies are essential for the welfare of the corn. 

Poppy seeds can lie dormant for years and are often stimulated to germinate once the soil is disturbed. Hence the subsequent blooming of poppies on the battlefields of Flanders and why they became the symbol of remembrance for those killed in war.

Frocks of silk

The poppies in the garden, they all wear frocks of silk,
Some are purple, some are pink, and others white as milk,
Light, light, for dancing in, for dancing when the breeze
Plays a little two-step for the blossoms  and the  bees.
Fine, fine for dancing in, all frilly at the hem,
Oh, when I watch the poppies dance I long to dance like them!

The poppies in the garden have let their silk frocks fall
All about the garden paths, but where are they at all?
Here a frill and there a flounce – a rag of silky red,
But not a poppy-girl is left – I think they’ve gone to bed.
Gone to bed and gone to sleep; and weary they must be
For each has left her box of dreams upon the stem for me.
                                                                                    Ffrida Wolfe

Sunday, 15 July 2012

An apple a day

but only after 15th July…

Today is St. Swithin’s Day, a day associated with the weather and the ripening of apples.  His remains were moved from their original resting place to Winchester Cathedral on 15th July in 971 AD. According  to legend, the saint so resented being moved that he began to weep, causing heavy rain to fall for the next 40 days.

Hence, a shower of rain on St. Swithin’s Day was said to be the saint christening the apples and in some rural areas no one would eat an apple until after 15th July.

St. Swithin’s Day, if thou dost rain
For forty days it will remain.
St. Swithin’s Day, if thou be fair
For forty days, ‘twill rain no mair.

The good news is that it stayed fine here the whole day.
Hopefully summer is on the way at last.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Food for the soul

After yet more wind and rain, the garden begins to look battered and almost uncared for with foxgloves leaning perilously, in conflict with yellow loosestrife and deep pink valerian. Leavings from the dreaded geraniums have begun to creep back into the shade of the borders and the dancing fairies have begun their summer striptease.  

Aquilegia - dancing fairies

The replanted border is beginning to establish but, like Thursday’s child, has far to go before it makes real impact, but its colourful promise is inspiring. Meanwhile, many and various clematis twirl and twine about the periphery of the garden fence. 

The alliums stand like purple lollipops, making bullet-like points of reference amongst the euphorbia and knapweed.

Purple Sensation alliums

Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed the soul     The Koran


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

All the colours of the rainbow

The iris is a flower whose history extends far back in time.
The word is from the Greek, meaning rainbow, but their actual colour spectrum is even wider.

Purple bearded iris

It is possible that the lilies of the fields, which the bible asks us to consider, were in fact iris rather than lilies. The iris has been known for at least two thousand years and the flower has inspired artists and poets alike.  Much loved by Monet at Giverny, blue irises were a favourite subject for Van Gogh.

Mostly grown from rhizomes, irises are well adapted to the British climate and are mainly disease and pest free. The British Iris Society is celebrating its 90th birthday this year, proof positive of how much esteem the plant is held here.

White bearded iris

The plant is very adaptable and there are types that grow in conditions ranging from deep dry shade, even growing underneath trees (iris foetidissima) to full sun (the blowsy bearded variety). Where would spring be without the delicate iris reticulata  and early summer without my personal favourite, the  elegant iris sibirica,  grown in Elizabethan gardens and ponds without the yellow flag iris.

Iris sibirica

The Dog Days begin on 3rd July, and last until 11th August. 

Garden lore tells us that they are linked with the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius, and that these are the hottest days of the year!

Pablo is hoping this is true and keeps looking longingly at the summer house …

Enjoying the summer house ...