Wednesday, 30 May 2012

A rare success

I love my garden.
Vegetables, flowers, trees, grass (well maybe I grumble about the grass sometimes). There is very little that gives me more pleasure than pottering about outside, pruning, dead-heading, digging and planning. It is all good.

Houseplants are an entirely different matter.
My intentions towards them are always honourable, but I cringe inwardly when someone gives me a potplant as the odds are that it will be a brown and crispy husk within six months. Having most of my windowsills point due South doesn't help either as the poor plants have the choice between thermal shock cycles there, or sitting further into the room in semi-darkness.
I could give the roll call of houseplants that have gone before, but it would be too depressing for words. Suffice to say, it is long.

So last year, when a visiting friend gave me a beautiful Phalaenopsis, I admired its beauty and simply expected it to go and join its predecessors on the compost heap eventually. But the blooms continued to flower month after month, and the plant appeared to enjoy my benign neglect. When the flowering stem finally died back, I felt that something so pretty and so tenacious deserved a chance.

After taking advice, I moved the pot to overwinter in the spare bedroom where it more or less dried out, but was given a watering whenever I noticed it - which admittedly was not very often. Amazingly it started to put up another flowering stalk a couple of months ago, so I moved it to where I would see it more often, gave it a bit of a feed and waited.

Last week it rewarded me with this. So lovely, and quite undeserved.

Monday, 28 May 2012

It seemed like a good idea at the time

This is something I seem to find myself saying quite a lot.

When we decided to hold our wedding reception in the garden at home, I inevitably found myself looking around the place with a critical eye. There are so many things that I have left undone over the past four years, due to lack of either time or oomph.

Take the pond, for example.
It was quite a nice pond when R and I first moved here. Goldfish, waterlilies, flag irises and marsh marigolds, boggy area, home to dragonflies, pond skaters and water boatmen, frogs and newts. Unfortunately it was in entirely the wrong place - in full sunlight and under a couple of deciduous trees that shed their leaves directly into the pond every Autumn.

Well, the goldfish survived on neglect for quite a few years.
And then I got ducks...
Ducks are lovely. Brilliant entertainment. Lots of eggs and the surplus drakes are rather tasty. They loved the pond and promptly stripped it of all greenery, ate the goldfish and as many tadpoles as they could get their greedy little beaks around. And they pooed. Into the pond that was already silted up with the sad remains of all the green stuff they had eaten. Without any oxygenating plants, the water promptly turned green and changed to the consistency of pea and ham soup.

In one of my Bridezilla moments, when I realised that the guests would have to walk past the pond and survey its awful green sludginess, I decreed that it would have to be drained, dredged and refilled. Husband-to-be quite sensibly didn't argue with this, but took the submersible pump from its shelf in the barn, removed a large tubful of frogspawn and pumped out all the water.

Then he handed me a bucket...

It took me two days to remove the 6-inch layer of noxious primaeval gloop and barrow it to the compost heap (mustn't waste all that organic matter!). I also removed many of the large edging stones that had fallen in, half a dozen planting baskets which, pre-ducks, had held waterlily roots and a mysterious collection of green-painted funnels (no idea what those were all about).

We then refilled the pond, returned the frogspawn and waited for the stirred-up stuff in the water to settle and change from dark brown to the clear, limpid pool that I fondly held in my imagination.

Only it didn't.
A week later the water had changed colour.
Back to bright green. Roughly the colour of pea and ham soup.

I wasn't happy. Not happy at all.

There was only one thing for it.
We would have to get some more ducks!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Perfect day

It's a funny thing, getting married after being widowed.
However happy you are, there is always a little voice in your head telling you that things shouldn't be so good. You always need to be careful about hurting someone else's feelings. It doesn't matter that you have thought about your loss for every one of the previous 1370 days or 32,856 hours or roughly 1,971,360 minutes, it still seems wrong to be happy at having good news to pass on to someone who may feel sad as a result.

In the end, R's family decided that they couldn't come to our wedding. I understand their feelings, but I so wish that it had been different. They gave their blessing, but didn't feel they could give their presence. I missed them very much. There were quite a few other people whom I thought about inviting, but they had been primarily 'his' friends, so it just didn't seem right. This may have just been my problem - I appreciate this.

But all those caveats aside, it truly was one of the happiest days of my life.
It was cold, but the sun shone on us. We planned a relaxed, informal event full of fun and music, and that is exactly what we had. A smallish private ceremony was followed by a ceilidh in a tent in the garden at home, with additional music from our favourite local bluegrass duo and other friends.

It was wonderful, joyful and full of people who care about us and wish us well for the future. And I guess that is all that matters.