Blog Archives


My Grandpa used to grow a lot of roses; we bought him one for his 80th birthday and I have long since forgotten the name of it. His garden, that it was planted in, is still there, but neither of my grandparents are. There’s that Elvis Costello song, isn’t there? He sings It’s Been A Good Year For the Roses, I don’t know if this is one such year, but I do know that they’ve preoccupied my thoughts more than ever before in my life.

I bought a patio rose tree about a year ago, in a terrible state, on sale for a few quid. It looked like it might not survive but after a little while, it flushed into bloom again, but with two different shades of pink: one very pale going towards apricot and one a proper rich, almost blowsy pink. It’s done it again this year, but with the constant rain, the colours seemed to have become washed out, watered down a little. And, strangely, it has hardly any leaves this year. I just don’t understand it.

The bi-colour patio rose, ivy backdrop

A few months ago, I moved another rose that came with the garden. I didn’t move it gently, it was dragged out of the ground and I think I even took my spade to one of it’s more stubborn roots to get it to give up its spot. I then replanted it, knowing that it was the wrong time of year to move it altogether. The rose felt that brutality for a while. Its leaves wilted, some fell off. It looked a poor specimen. I watered it and fed it and asked it to do its thing and now it has started to come back, bearing one deep fuchsia pink, tight-lipped rosebud. I do not deserve it, but nature does that for itself and is far more potent than me with my destructive spade and garden rearranging, thankfully.

I have also bought a ‘Sunset Boulevard’ rose as a gift recently, which I have not yet had the opportunity to give. I must confess that I became intrigued to know what colour it would bloom before I gave it because I had bought it in mind of a particular orangey ginger dog and, as I discovered with half-dead patio rose, you never know exactly what you’ve got with a rose until it flowers. As it just came out this week, I realised that, yes, it will do. It’s a rather Flaming June sort of nasturtium orange, the catalogues show a duskier, softer tone, but I think it is ok. It makes me think, when I think about trying to describe roses in words, that they defy colour description. Really, they do. The closest I can come is to emergency draft in another species of flower using comparison as description. Poor, really. Surely the rose deserves better. Look across a range of pink, or red roses and try and describe each variety in words. Impossible?

Sunset Boulevard, leaves dusted with Saharan Sand

At the time of buying the Sunset Boulevard, I also bought a climbing rose, an off-white with a yellow centre. It too has flowered this week. At first, I was disappointed with the small, flat flowers, but I have realised that the scent is so beautiful that I must forgive it its conservative display. And that really is all I have to say about my roses; except that last night I was in someone else’s kitchen with the back door open. The evening sun was shining through, there was a slight breeze. The black and white cat of the house, who has the most magnificent ostrich feather for a tail, was playing underneath a large rose bush about four feet high, covered in fat, shocking pink, fleshy blooms; the kind that Georgia O’Keefe might have painted. I was watching the cat when I saw a single petal fall from one large rose.

We think we know all about rose petals and how they fall, or at least I thought I did: they might float, or drift, downwards and land with silent grace somewhere in a romantically poetic sort of way. This bruiser of a petal did no such thing. It plummeted with a perceptible thud onto the concrete below. It’s probably still there: a big, fat, pink petal pulsating with the universal energy that makes us all that we are.

When you are in a deep pit of doom…

…the obvious thing to do to lift oneself out of it (when all the usual suspects fail to work) is to make bunting.

The fact that I have never attempted the feat before, possess only minimal seamstressing skill and little practical aptitude for crafts are only minor hindrances to overcome. The idea came about when I was in a dance shop buying the second pair of Irish Dancing Shoes in a week, in preparation for my twelve trips to and from school tomorrow afternoon (see last Wednesday’s post if you care for an explanation of that one). The dance shop has a material concession in the right hand corner manned by, well a man. One suspects he runs up all kinds of sequinned numbers for ballroom dancers but he was a slightly aggressive shopkeeper for the customer wanting a few offcuts and a bobbin of thread. There are a lot of passive aggressive people out there you know. Watch out for them, they often come disguised as mice.

Anyway, the proposed bunting sewing activity follows on directly from demolishing a wall at the weekend; stage 1 of converting the mudbath that is the garden to something that the neighbours don’t have to wince at over the fence. Well, the neighbours on the left hand side anyway; I don’t think the ones on the right care.

Stage 1 is not yet complete as there is the small matter of half a tonne of soil to move which was held back by the ugly and stubborn wall.

Here’s some aspirational bunting, to brighten up the blog. There’s no need to have triangles all the time is there?

Tomorrow I might dazzle the blog readers with where I am now keeping my clothes pegs. Life – you couldn’t write it.

Mothers Day: Keeping it real in SS2

Now we no longer send our children up chimneys, down the pit, into service and up yonder t’mill, they are a permanent fixture in the front room, hogging the telly and polluting the atmosphere with 21st Century noise.

I am sure we would be delighted to spend the day together under the former circumstance, especially if the children had walked miles clutching a posy of spring flowers; amongst the current din and general lack of consideration for others I would rather take myself off to the allotment with a bottle of booze.

Speaking of which, yesterday was a great day in the garden. I called it Lets see whats survived a harsh winter and six months of neglect? What came out of the regime best was the compost bin. Joy of joys, and totally unbelievably, I found I had converted all manner of doings into beautiful, sweet-smelling, light and fluffy rich compost. Well of course it was not I, it was the Universal Law of Energy: matter cannot be created or destroyed, only transmuted.

Now I just need to see if six months in the compost bin has the same effect on me.

My hellebore: poisonous but medicinal in cases of hysteria

Down the allotment

I was very kindly offered a bit of a patch on Re:forms allotment last year. I duly went down and looked and hadnt been back since. At last it has stopped raining and freezing, so we went down for a bit yesterday and managed to get in two rows of spring onions and some rehomed strawberry plants, in between standing about in some degree of shock and awe. Some plots are so… tidy. Some plots are not. The best are the Edgelands sort anyway.

The magic of the allotment has inspired me: I am going to plant a field of dreams once I have started the seeds for the corn in the kitchen.

Watch this space.