Jaqui's Daily Blog

In Praise of Plants

We have only been away a few days - but the garden seems intent on welcoming us back as if we have been away for simply ages.


The tamarisk tree (planted in 1986 to mark the opening of the Tamarisk Centre in Littlehampton for which my task was to organise publicity) is approaching its full glory. We have been watching it turn from green to pink over the last few weeks but it has clearly been working overtime on its transformation while we have been away, in order to surprise us on our return. Alongside it, the honeysuckle (a present from Mr B’s Little Bruv and Val) while nestling beneath it, the azalea is emerging into bloom; we bought it from Leonardslee Gardens on a visit there many years ago. For some years it refused to flourish until four or five years ago I gave it a good talking to, explaining that if it didn’t pull its socks up (horticulturally speaking) I would be forced to dig it up and relegate it to a pot. The thought of such an indignity worked wonders, since then the azalea has gone from strength to strength. Meanwhile its Home of Origin, Leonardslee Gardens, has just reopened after nine long years of closure. One day I must revisit the gardens and perhaps purchase a companion for my azalea bush. I will put it on my “One Day” list...


In our Golden Wedding bed, all the rose bushes gifted us by generous friends and relatives three years ago when we celebrated our fifty years of marriage are spreading and budding beautifully while the white lilac (our present to ourselves, a replacement for a previous specimen, bought for our Silver Wedding , which succumbed to the unwelcome attentions of a fox) is, like June, bursting out all over. The Peter Pan agapanthus I bought myself last year on a wonderful visit to Chartwell with the Eldest of the Darling Daughters also seems to be thriving. I bought us one each to remember our visit - and chose Peter Pan because that was my daughter’s favourite book when she was a littl’un. She borrowed it from the local library, renewing it time after time until her Dad and I thought we’d better buy her a copy of her own, so that all the other children in Staplehurst village would not be deprived of reading J M Barrie’s classic. 


Here, there and everywhere are clumps of perfect, snowy white lilies, the descendants of plants which once lived and thrived in Mr B’s gran’s garden and which decorated the church on our wedding day. It looks as if 2019 may well be a Prolific Year for Lilies. In the front garden, the ceanothus (or blue bush, as  call it) will soon be Blue All Over. It was one of my favourite retirement presents from two former colleagues who had been moved to laughter by my tale of how Mr B once pruned - and killed off - a previous specimen. “I used to have a bush like that...” I was wont to mourn, sadly, every time we came across a ceanothus in someone else’s garden. Now I have another - and Mr B is not allowed anywhere near it.


I was relieved to find that the fifty-eight Sunflower seedlings I planted out before we went away have almost all survived five days of neglect. All four of the 2019 Competition Sunflowers, in particular, are looking strong and as happy as any seedling ever does. I count five seedlings which appear to have suffered decapitation by some Unknown Pest but I reckon that isn’t too worrying. Except for the five unfortunates, of course. 


Upstairs on the windowsill in the small bedroom, it isn’t quite such a happy story as the hollyhock, zinnia and marigold seedlings look pretty parched. I apologise profusely as I wield the watering can above them, fingers crossed that it will be Better Late Than Never. The hollyhocks are the first to revive but I’m taking no chances and so I spend most of the afternoon transplanting the seedlings into pots. By the time I have finished there are fifty-four of them, which is, you have to admit, a Whole Lot of Hollyhocks. In the next couple of days I must tackle the zinnia and the marigolds (the latter are looking particularly sorry for themselves.) That will be tomorrow’s task then.


So many of the plants in our garden bear happy memories of the occasion for which they were introduced into our garden or the people who gifted them to us. It makes it all the more special when, with winter behind us, they emerge to charm us anew. 


There are other plants in the garden which I haven’t planted, which just seem to have decided, all for themselves, that they want to be here. These include a small rowan tree which has arrived from nowhere and established itself in one of the borders. I have been watching it grow for the last three years though I rather feel it doesn’t need any encouragement from me. It knows where it wants to be. It has adopted us. We are its Forever Home. 


In Celtic mythology, the rowan tree is known as The Tree of Life and it is considered to be a sacred tree which protects the dwelling by which it grows.


I am so glad it chose us.

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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