Yesterday was a beautiful day.
Yesterday The Babety woke at 6.30am rather than 5am.
Yesterday I was not giving a ‘talk’.*
Yesterday my Rosa ‘Scentimental’ came out.
Yesterday I went to this seriously yummy NGS garden opening.
I’m going to declare and interest here. Jenny and Ricky Raworth’s garden is one of my favourite gardens in the whole wide world. This couple are totally nuts about their beautiful garden, but not to the exclusion of everything else (there are lovely daughters and grandchildren etc to be bonkers about too)…anyway, they always give superb garden opening. Not only is the garden always spectacular, but both are always there to answer questions and show you round, and generally be seriously charming…oh, and there’s another reason. It begins with ‘CA’ and ends in ‘KE’.
There are so many elements to this haven – a spectacular sunken area at the front, with masses of stone troughs planted up with alpines and semps, a conservatory packed full of Pelargoniums, the most sumptuous, deep beautiful borders bursting with scented loveliness, including massed Crambe cordifolia (of which I am hideously jealous), fantastic clipped hedges and a knot parterre. They also have the MOST perfect lawn EVER.
Jenny says she never fed her Irises (here, Iris Jane Phillips), until this year, thinking they’d hate it, coming as they do from dry rocky ‘bakey’ type places. But they’ve tripled in volume since she did…so feed away everybody.
Don’t you just love the box cones – they look just perfect for leaning against with a morning paper.
Here is an extraordinary geranium. It’s called G. x oxianum ‘Thurstoniuanum‘ and the petals are all rolled up – a bit like Tulipa acuminata
Here is a spectacular Datura with some of Jenny’s much loved Plectranthus and a lovely small person
Here, above is Jenny’s favourite Poppy – it’s deeper red than ‘Pattie’s Plum’ and it’s called ‘Medallion’
…Here is Jenny, with a background of gorgeous R. ‘Constance Spry’
And here is the Babety in one of my old dresses, made by my granny.
Every time I visit, it’s thrilling because there’s always something new, but more than that, there’s this lovely feeling of happiness and family which you can’t learn, or buy or fake. Yes, I’ll take that Papaver, and the room full of pelargoniums, and that passion for plectranthus and the perfect lawn, and that extraordinary geranium, and the massive crambe but more than that, I want the feeling…. Trust me to want to copy something indescernible rather than an actual thing….typical.
*I’ve been having a sheet-eating moment…you know, the kind of awful feeling when you’ve either done something really horribly stupid or you’ve embarrassed yourself beyond what is normally laid to rest with a glass of wine and a cuddle from someone lovely who will pat you kindly and tell you it’s not that bad. Sheet-eating is what happens when the magnitude of the hideousness means that you wake up the next morning and IT is the first thing you think about, and IT is so stomach-knottingly sickening that you want to scream, but that would wake everyone up, so you bite down on the nearest thing to you, which is usually a sheet of some description. Then all through the next day, and the next, you keep thinking about it and each time it happens you feel like you’re about to be a bit sick in your mouth…
The source of my pain was a ‘talk’ I was very sweetly asked to give at the Stoke Newington Literary Festival with the brilliant Richard Reynolds. I’d never done anything like that before, so I was ‘healthily’ nervous, but nothing out of the ordinary. And then about five minutes in, this small voice said very clearly
“Why are you here? – can’t you see they’re all laughing at you?’.
It got louder and louder and, well, I totally dried up…no no no, I actually want to emphasise this so it’s clear: I LOST COMMAND OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE – literally nothing would come out…noTHING. I started sweating profusely, managed to mumble something that sounded like an end, and sat down. What I wanted to do was run, scoop up the Babety and The Hunk and run out of there, and be violently sick, and just basically DIE on the spot.
It’s all a bit puzzling really, because I usually tell that sort of voice to shut up. Why, at this moment I let it gag me is a mystery – (did I hear someone titter?…I think I did…) – anyway, it makes my throat ache rather, because it takes me back to another time, and a twelve-year-old me, and a crippling shyness that had me muzzled, shackled, practically unable to breathe for a good few years until the sudden, (miraculous) realisation that I actually had a choice meant that finally I was able to set myself free. I don’t know what on earth made me feel so twisted up at that time, but I do know that I want to make it so my daughter never ever has to feel that way. This re-visit to those days has made me realise how little control I will have over her future happiness. All I can hope for is that she will be more intelligent (or perhaps that she will be slightly stupider than me) and consequently either know that paralysis from shyness is get-out-able-of-able or that she is a perfect, gorgeous person, who feels entitled to happiness no matter what.
Ach, I know I know…it’ll fade….I know it doesn’t really matter what thirty strangers think of me…I know all that….and yes, I’m painfully aware that this whole silly rant could be summed up with a #highclassproblem hashtag….And yet..and yet…
Bleurgh, shut up.