summery

There’s a big difference between the weather summary and summery weather, but today they seem to coincide, with quite a bit of sunshine expected and temperatures predicted to reach nearly 20º.

Hourly weather forecastThis isn’t at all the sort of weather I was used to when I lived in Spain, where summer was a dull aching red that lasted from March through to October: here in England, even the hottest days start off blue and fresh and daisy clean.
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kiss-me-quick

When I first posted the photo above last autumn, I simply called it “pink flowers” as I didn’t know what the plant was.

Today, though, I put some in a vase for my mother along with foxgloves and other flowers from her garden and she told me it was red valerian or kiss-me-quick.
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wallflowers and garden walls

From Tom’s Midnight Garden – the vast country-house grounds held trapped in the memory of a tiny city backyard – to The Secret Garden, which Mary Lennox discovers with the help of the robin, to The Selfish Giant‘s garden where Spring will not visit while the children are kept out, there’s something magical about walled gardens.
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educational

I’ve said before that when we used to go on family holidays my parents always found room in the suitcases for a few books.

Specifically, there was always the Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds and the Collins Pocket Guide to Wild Flowers, and I must have spent hours identifying and listing the new species we found. (Perhaps it wasn’t just me who had this task – it may have been a more familial activity, or perhaps we even had a competition to see which sibling found the most – but my memory is only of my own lists.)
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better days…

…and worse.

dying bird of paradise flower

dead bird of paradise flower

winter magic

I was delighted to find snow drops on my walk into town yesterday, but they were only just coming into flower, so I didn’t get any good pictures. Perhaps there will be more next weekend.

I also I found this strange leafless shrub, with flowers the colour of forsythia or winter jasmine. I knew the lack of leaves meant it couldn’t be the latter, but I wondered whether it might be a very early forsythia whose petals had become deformed because it had blossomed too early.

As usual, Google has provided the answer: it is in fact witch hazel. If that doesn’t count as winter magic, I don’t know what does.

fair weather flowers

I don’t know when I first heard the saying “God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December”**, but it made sense to me as I was brought up in Britain and grew up thinking of the rose as the perfect symbol of English summer.

Later, I realised that I was wrong to think of the flower as typically English: I’ve seen the Rose Parade in Pasadena and elsewhere on the blog I’ve pondered the character of Spanish roses. But I still tend to associate roses with better weather.

That said, I took the above photo earlier this week.

True, the blooms are a little the worse for wear – if I was remembering a rose, I think I’d picture one in rather better condition. Frankly, though, I don’t think they should have been there at all.

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** The quote is attributed to J M Barrie, though when he used it in a rectorial address in 1922 he seems to have expected his audience to be familiar with it.