My early morning follows a very ritualistic pattern. Up around 8, now I am in a retired state, there is no way I am carrying on with 0600 get-ups. Dog and cats sorted, then out into the garden for a circuit, carrying a large mug of tea, which gets me half way round and then I make another for the second half. En route, the strange ‘bowing to the lilies’ thing happens. Were a complete stranger to be observing me, this is exactly what it would look like. A slow dropping bow to the left, and then up, followed by the same on the right. Of course, I know that I am merely checking for the red lily beetle, but the other day I caught myself at the bowing, and it made me laugh. So the silent observer would then have seen laughing out loud followed by mad muttering to self.
Lucky there is no-one looking really. Other strange things happening include double auriculas suddenly deciding to have one single flower or two in the group- very odd. I bought these auriculas as tiny little plugs years ago at Chelsea in my major plant smuggling period. They just about hang on here, in the shade in the summer, and then pick up enough to flower in the Spring, usually in March. Not this year. I am rather fond of the blackberry custard colouring of ‘Jungfrau’, and I love the deep caramel of ‘Bill Bailey’, but look what he’s gone and done. Now the odd thing about ‘Bill Bailey’ who has always been a double with deep caramel, as per the two flowers in the photograph, is that Wootton’s show Bill as more like the strange single flower that popped up this year. I think that auriculas must be more promiscuous than I had realised. A mystery.
Meantime, the part of the garden with a more formal look, low-hedged oblongs with paths crossing them, has undergone a major rejuvenation. The upside of this is that it is really wearing the transformation well- the downside is that I have promised on a stack of bibles to be tidier around the place. My hidey-holes for old pots and whatnot, an awful lot of whatnot, have all gone and so I am exposed as a pretty poor tidier-upper. I am trying to reform.
I love our old roof tiles edging the gravel- we just had enough as they break so very easily. And 00s of wheelbarrow trips brought the gravel round from the pile outside the front of the house- thank you Jim and Andy both. It’s not quite my old, more sloppy way of doing things- and it will be a discipline for me. But I am reminded, again, of what I know- that jumbly, carefree planting, and the tolerance of a certain amount of weedery, is vastly helped by some formality that creates definition. You need both- freedom and discipline. Maybe the auriculas are trying to tell me that.