For me, some flowers and plants are inextricably linked to books I have read. I can’t see a periwinkle flower like the one above without its other name – Joy-of-the-ground – springing to mind alongside images of Maria Merryweather and her pony at Moonacre Manor in Elizabeth Goudge’s delightful story The Little White Horse.
Salmon pink geraniums also take me to the same story, but they don’t fit this post’s colour theme, and, really, it’s colours not books that I’m thinking about today.
I’m thinking of colours because it seems I’ve been prosing on here on the blog – the stats show this year’s posts have an average of 650 words each, which is far more than other years (not usually averaging above 400) – and I wondered how much of it has been purple prose.
Which started me thinking about the colour purple. And also about the colour blue.
You’d have thought that bluebells would be blue; the name is a bit of a giveaway, after all. Last week I said that I’d missed their flowering this year, but then I found a few tardy blooms earlier this week. Even if we agree that the periwinkle is blue, which, personally, I am not sure of, these English bluebells seem to me to have crossed the limits into purple.
And yet, they are nothing like the purple of the magnificent ornamental alliums the council planted when they refurbished the junction just up the road from here. They didn’t finish the roadworks in time for the plants to bloom last year, so it’s only now we’re seeing them in all their glory.
Nor are the bluebells anything like the blue of the germander speedwells I found growing in the wood by the racecourse. Admittedly the photo shows these with a somewhat greenish tint, but that’s due to the shade of the trees they were growing under.
If the allium globes are purple, what colour does that make the neighbour’s wisteria? In reality the blossom is already a sort of dirty pink fading to beige, but in the photo the colour is reminiscent of an outfit my mother used to wear, which would have been classed as lavender or perhaps mauve, which I always thought was pale purple.
I once described a similar sight in a poem as a “blue tiered cascade” and the wisteria certainly made a good combination alongside the blue door and the blue sky.
After this brief prosaic and photographic exploration of the limits of blue and purple, some readers might be wondering whether there’s going to be any poetry.
Although we’ve had some lovely weather during lockdown, summer holidays seem to remain a long way off on a cloud-free blue horizon. This is what I thought of when Jenny Heap asked me to contribute to “Words in Lockdown”, a video compilation of writers who usually read at the live lit events she organises locally.
You’ll find my contribution (approximately seven minutes) starting around minute 3, straight after the introduction by Jenny, who is, coincidentally, sitting on a blue chair and wearing a dress in shades of blue.