"Nesbit indulges her own visual tastes in The Lark; her love of flowers, fabrics, glass, china, old pewter, well-made furniture, 'mellow Persian carpets', 'the dusky splendour of old calf and morocco', with 'gilded lettering like rows of little sparks', enriches every page."
"If poverty had been the keynote of the convent buildings, its garden was redolent of wealth. There was, even here, certain evidence of monastic austerity, in that no flowers grew for the sake of their beauty alone, but the formal beds beneath the peach trees were rich with thyme and lavender and purple rosemary, while the feet of the pear and apple trees, espaliered on the surrounding walls, stood deep in a silver drift of sage. A row of apricot trees lent support to a disciplined riot of vines; below it, in careful ranks, fading stems were weighted with the fabulous red of tomatoes. There was even a pair of orange trees, standing sentinel at the end of a box-bordered path, looking, with their symmetrical heads hung with glossy green fruit, for all the world like guardians of some fantastic gateway to fairytale, or to the herb-garden pictured on some faded medieval page ... basil, vervain, borage; saffron, hyssop, juniper; violet for heart's-ease, and blue clary and the little lemon thyme ... Over all hung the scent of spices and warm earth, and the resinous smell of the near pine-woods mingled sleepily with the fragrance of lavender. Not a bird sang, but the air was loud with bees."
The picture is of my own garden in summer - appropriate in once sense as my house used to be a convent, although what you see there owes more to these people than to the Sisters who lived here once upon a time.
Better gardeners and flower arrangers than I am take part in the lovely In a Vase on Monday meme - see for instance Julie's posts, Cathy's, and Sam's - but inspired by them I thought I'd see what's what in my own small plot today and put together, if not a vase as such, then a tiny bunch to fill the old ink bottle which always sits on my desk.
The hellebores are well on their way to opening, and there's Autumn cherry blossom which I couldn't reach as I nipped out wearing shoes (and the ground is very muddy); elsewhere the first of the bulbs are pushing through and there are fat leaf buds on a couple of shrubs, so things are moving, but cherry apart, flower-wise this was it: geranium 'Jolly Bee', erigeron, winter jasmine, and primrose, backed by some sprigs of rosemary and box which are still fresh despite having been in the Christmas wreath for almost three weeks. Not much, but a cheering sight nonetheless.
Sprigs of fir - from the lower branches of the Christmas tree - and from the garden, ivy, periwinkle, lavender, rosemary, box, and bay, winter jasmine, rose buds (Blush Noisette), pyracantha, and ceanothus.
To span the seasons, I've included a couple of lavender flowers as there are still one or two to be had.
The wreath has been hung on the front door, and as I publish this post we'll have reached the solstice - always a heartening moment as here in the northern hemisphere we turn that celestial corner.
Cheering too is Pantone's colour of the year for 2017: Greenery, "a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew, " and "a life-affirming shade, [...] emblematic of the pursuit of personal passions and vitality".
“peering from some high window; at the gold of november sunset (and feeling: that if day has to become night this is a beautiful way).” ― e.e. cummings
I wasn't at a high window, when I took the picture, I was on the ground; it wasn't sunset, rather mid-morning; but in the spirit of those lines, you might say that if one season has to become the next, this is a beautiful way to do it.
(I cribbed the Cummings from today's RSL newsletter.)
In the greenhouse the tomatoes are coming on, and the Marmande* shown above will be the first to be ready. As I pinch out side shoots and tie in new growth, so that unmistakable tomato leaf smell is released. If you want a perfume that recreates that fragrance - and makes it more complex - try La Feuille by Miller Harris.
*Grown from the seed of a supermarket tomato we ate. The plant sat on the kitchen windowsill for a couple of years during which it flowered but didn't fruit. I moved it out to the greenhouse a few weeks ago, repotted it, and waited to see what it would do - 'vigorous' is the best description now!
Over on Instagram I asked a question about the correct spelling of this variety. Daniel's Run Heirloom Tomatoes kindly answered me and said that the full name is Rouge de Marmande, and it dates from 1925, though I read that there is also a more recent introduction called 'Marmonde' which is what my Waitrose ones were labelled as. Whatever its origin, it's a good tomato.