Friday, 16 August 2013

Green pebbles in the rain

Gentle drizzle falls this morning from a bright grey, light grey sky. The clear air and softened light makes for a pleasant change after such a period of unforgivingly hot, bright weather. Muffled sounds of the falling rain blend with the ambient noise of these gardens; a counterpoint comprising the cooing of collared doves, the plop of fish coming up for air, and the lightest swiish from the cherry trees as the breeze filters through their coppery canopies. This welcome freshness finds me kneeling on the turf before the low lavender hedge that encircles the lily pond. I have discarded my gloves, the better to feel the individual bundles of flowering stems which must now be removed if the plants are to retain a dense and compact habit, and the sharp blades of my secateurs make easy work of the task as they cleanly sever semi rigid green tissue. Snip. Taking care not to cut into the old wood, eruptions of tiny blue grey needles below the wound – new leaves contrasting with the softer, richer green of the mature foliage – confirm to me that the plant will make a full and fast recovery from this operation.

These plants want to sprawl, to range lankily away from their planting holes, pinned to the ground by a single foot but reaching ever outwards. They possesses a strange, wizened beauty in this form. But that’s not how we like to grow lavender in our gardens, where so often we enforce the juvenile state, perhaps because we are able to do to plants what we long to do to ourselves. Enforcing youth, I mean. Not snipping bits off.

Pleasing green pebble forms begin to emerge where earlier a flattened mat of cat sprawled chaos had threatened to overwhelm the scene. The rain begins to fall with a greater determination, fat drops pattering on the brim of my battered Barmah hat. There is still plenty of summer left, but the freshness newly discernible on the morning air brings with it a thrill of anticipation for the season to come.