"It is more than three hundred years since Francis Bacon advocated that 'There ought to be gardens for all the months of the year,' proceeding to relegate to the Winter months 'things that be greene' only. Laurels and Privets and Euonymus have ceased to satisfy the modern gardener. He wants flowers too, and the smallest garden may boast its patches of Cyclamen, bringing it Spring in Autumn and Summer in the clouded months of English Winter."
If you look back at that post you'll see mention of the sweet pea competition of 1911, the Borders village of Sprouston, and Denholm Fraser who was minister there at the time. I paid a visit to Sprouston when I was in the area the other day but was sorry to discover that the church - or 'Sweet Pea Kirk', as a banner at the gate proclaims it - was locked, and so I couldn't see the chancel, added by Rev. Fraser thanks to his sweet pea prize money, nor the embroidered pulpit falls which depict the flowers either side of a cross. I'd also like to have seen this piscina depicting a knight's head which is thought to date from between the 12th to the 15th centuries and which was found during the digging of Rev. Fraser's chancel foundations.
'Know your enemy' is the gist of the book with its profiles of 100 common weeds and 20 ways in which to tackle them, but it also makes a virtue of necessity, pointing out the therapeutic nature of weeding:
' "Nothing is so interesting as weeding. This is what Robert Louis Stevenson claimed in his later life, prefacing his remark with, "I would rather do a good hour's weeding than write two pages of my best." '
And Christopher Lloyd - "Many gardeners will agree that hand-weeding is not the terrible drudgery that it is often made out to be. Some people find in it a kind of soothing monotony. It leaves their minds free to develop the plot for their next novel or to perfect the brilliant repartee with which they should have countered a relative's latest example of unreasonableness."
As for Darwin, William Edmonds' mentor, he left the weeding to his gardeners ...
I sowed the seeds in early March, and here we are in mid-August just about to harvest the first fruit. I have many more plants, but they are all well behind this one, so a decent crop is still some time away.
"Each colour is unique, but no colour can stand alone. To get the full value of its unique colour it must have other hues by its side, not for mere contrast, as black, say, contrasts with white, or square with circle, but prismatically to break up the rays of colour, as a shuttlecock is tossed, to and from the waves of light. Thus all the most brilliant things of nature are composed of tiny facets or mirrors which reflect and re-reflect each other - kingfisher's breast, jay's feather, butterfly's wing, fish's scales, flower petals in all their transparency - each may appear one hue, but in reality under a microscope are made up of many varied hues in true harmony, heightening each other's brilliance. So we cull our colours here and there, up and down the scale to create the particular colour we have in mind.
Yesterday I set out to pick a yellow bunch to place as a lamp on my table in dull, rainy weather. I picked Iceland poppies, marigolds, yellow iris; my bunch would not tell yellow. I added sunflowers, canary pansies, buttercups, dandelions; no yellower.
I added to my butter-like mass, two everlasting peas, magenta pink, and all my yellows broke into luminosity. Orange and gold and lemon and primrose each singing its note. Pleased with my success I added more sweet peas and drowned my yellow completely. Another colour emerged, not yellow. Each colour thus created by a supremacy over the other colours it finds itself among, has its own message, and this message is sufficient for the gamut of human thought, and corresponds to it; as music can correspond to it. The same science of intervals plays upon human emotion."