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We’re counting down to our open day for the NGS. I have a to-do list which gets longer as I cross off two items and add six more that I’ve just thought of. Lawns are mowed and edged, paths have been swept and the bird bath has been scrubbed. I’ve addressed the most egregious weeds; the hanks of goose grass draped over the Pieris at the back and the nettle behind the chair that someone’s bound to sit on. The Euphorbia mellifera (honey spurge) was engagingly huge but towered over the Hemerocallis (day lily), cutting down the light essential for show stopping flowers. Attila helped me to prune the tyrannical shrub which like all of its kin, exudes thick white sap that irritates unprotected skin. I kept my spouse itch free but the branches of our victim are striped with gore like a casualty in a Tarantino movie.
Down the garden path
Down the garden path

The front looks reasonable, apart from the Echium pininana (giant viper’s bugloss) which is living up to its name in a monstrous spire of blue blossom. It came as a seedling from a consummate gardener, who has them drifting through his plot in meaningful groves. My single specimen is now twelve feet (4 m.) high and frantic with bees. There’s been a few waggle dances done over that one, I can tell you. I’m trying not to get anxious about a few older matrons who will be able to spot a tuft of grass in a border, or a leaf of ground elder at a hundred paces. Their eyeballs are going to be whizzing in this place. I hid in the vegetable patch and dealt with dandelions, while Attila wielded his preferred equipment and attacked the frou-frou pink cherry tree, which has died suddenly without warning or explanation. I ignored the crump of falling timber and refrained from offering advice or instructions, which isn’t like me. He carried out his mission without damaging anything, including himself. He’s a fine co-pilot.
In the conservatory
In the conservatory

I’ve hurled myself amongst the Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’ (golden hop), which was making a bid for world domination. I freed the other residents of the yellow and white bed at considerable personal cost; the stems of the vine are toothed, to assist with the monster’s remorseless upward progress. I looked like I came off worst in a tussle with a brace of tigers. The stinging nettles caught me a lash across the chops during their eviction, so I have a ferocious Quasimodo squint.
Lilium “Rhialto” & Papaver (poppy) seed heads
Lilium “Rhialto” & Papaver (poppy) seed heads

I’m opening with Jasmine, who is blonde and beautiful, has an immaculate estate across town and is offering cream teas, Prosecco and preserves for sale. I wouldn’t be surprised if her husband juggles tomatoes whilst riding a unicycle. I’ve pointed my partner at the washing line for a trapeze act but fear that he would be as comfortable as a goldfish asked to perform a tango on roller skates. At my house, visitors will get home made cordial and like it. I have yet to buy lemons, sugar and ice. The gates will be flung wide tomorrow morning. Wish me luck.

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