Lemonade

If the world gives you lemons make lemonade.

Just over a week from the devastating hailstorm that trashed the garden, there is some regrowth .

One courgette plant and one pumpkin plant survived and have put out very small new leaves. A few bush bean plants are still growing despite being splashed with mud. The stumps of lettuces have inspired a new ring of leaves and the bush fuchsia is making buds at the apex of each smashed stalk.

The roses are shocked out of summer and only a few undamaged buds have opened in stunned smallness . The peonies are long gone and even the stalwart ladies’ mantle is an unretrievable broken mass on the grass. I have been most surprised by the havoc reeked on the lavender, which was just budding and really shooting up. The hail has pockmarked virtually every flower stem and over the passing week they have slowly wilted and finally collapsed over the foliage.

I was going to throw a party to celebrate that fact that we are both now retired and survived many years of teaching. The garden has been my personal refuge, from the digitised soullessness horror of modern education. Now the garden gives me less pleasure, so I went to the co-op and bought some hanging fuchsias and begonias, new tomatoes plants, fennel and cabbage and parsley.

I thought trying an actual lemon plant would be pushing the metaphor way beyond its climatic boundaries.

I think the party will have to wait, until there has been more regrowth, but the lemonade jug is ready and waiting just in case!

In the shelter of a hedge.

This rose grows in the shadow of a thick hedge. It flowers each summer mostly ignored.

When a catastrophic hailstorm destroyed my garden a few days ago it was sheltered from the devastation and now its lone bloom is the most valued thing that there is left.

When we moved to our house 12 years ago, our new neighbours warned us about the hail storms that can trash everything in minutes and sighed at our desire to grow soft fruit and grapes. We listened politely and went ahead with planting raspberries and currants and vines. There were a few hail storms and one year we lost our potatoes, but nothing was too bad.

The thunder started early in the afternoon and went on for so long I just thought it was part of the music that was playing.

The hail stones were 2-3 cm in diameter. They broke plant pots, roof tiles and chipped off the plaster from the walls of the house. They bounced like ball barrings or frozen gob stoppers and smashed foliage as they fell. The lettuces were pulverised, the pumpkins, courgettes and green beans were pounded into the mud and the potato plants shredded into skeletons.

After spectacular lightening and yet more thunder, the heavens finally opened . Hail thundered down with a size and ferocity I have never encountered in any tropical country.

There is a single bud left on my lovely lilies . The peonies were atomised and my best ever year of roses were over in ten minutes of ice and biblical vengeance.

I have been clearing up as best I can but my garden is a very sorry sight.

The rose by the hedge was protected by the thick overhang and while the rest of the garden is broken and battered, this neglected rose escaped completely unharmed .

Gardens grow metaphors like weeds.

Hearing the quarter moon.

It is warm and still. I forgot to water my two tomato plants and the half row of beans that have shouldered above the soil.

My neighbour sneezes: the sweet chestnut is in flower. Somewhere a food processor churns, or is it a washing machine or a heat pump? Someone calls in a cat who wants to hunt the light night away. The cars have gone, a lone motorbike rips through the silence . Curfew is an hour away and the air is sweet.

Very small white moths appear. The hobby sheep bleats in the bottom of his lucky garden .

A mosquito whines along the gathering darkness, shutters are descending and the last blackbird fusses out of the cherry tree, a half eaten fruit in his yellow beak.

I think there is still a glass of wine undrunk indoors, so I leave the watering can by the butt, bow to the brightening moon and go quietly inside.

Sherbet

I wish I could write about smell in the way I can write about sounds and sights .

This iris is astounding in its colour and fabulously complex symmetry, but the part that delights me the most and that I cannot capture is it’s perfume .

All I can manage is that it smells of sherbet and fizz and something just sensed and then lost. It smells of limestone and bath salts and it instantly makes me smile.

The roses are just starting to blossom but that is a whole nother symphony of perfume; each one deserving of a post to its self as they unfurl between sunshine and deluge.

The rain that jewels each petal magnifies their beauty and scent and threatens to lump them into crumpled heaps of rotten blossom before their time.

I think I will just have to stand in the rain and revel in the unexpected sherbet while I can!

Spider Babies

I was drinking tea on the bench outside (unbelievably it was warm enough!) and I noticed a couple of little moving balls in a web slung between bench and wall.

On closer inspection I saw that each ball was composed of hundreds of minute spiders. Some were huddled together closely and others were venturing slowly off along a maze of fine web. Each tiny spider was newly hatched and off to find a place to spin its first web in the garden. They were utterly perfect in their tiny ness .

Their mother had laid a cocoon before she died in the winter and her off spring had waited patiently for the warmth before they emerged. If I blew gently on them they scurried, so I left them to themselves and by the next day they were all gone.

It reminded me of that childhood classic “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White and I thought how extraordinary it was that I should have lived so long and never seen this marvellous event before.

A garden is always full of wonders!