Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A metaphor for what?

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Sometimes I grow afraid of ground elder. It is not just that it spreads everywhere, at the speed of sound, like some terrifying extra-terrestrial being which has come to turn us all into pod people. It is that it lies there, a green carpet of reproach, proving to me that I am a lousy gardener. If I even look at it, I have to admit that I have no serious grasp of horticulture. As a result, I have a shocking tendency to avert my eyes, and pretend it is not there.

Today, I went outside to take some pictures of the tulips and the grape hyacinths. For the most excellent angle, I have to lie down. I decided I liked lying down very much (my lawn is lovely and mossy). The dogs, thinking this a tremendous game, came and lay down beside me, nudging me with their noses. The problem was that, in the prone position, I had a worm's eye view of the ground elder. There it bloody was, mocking me with its ruthless persistence. The lying down became less fun.

Suddenly, I had no more fear. The thing is: I am a lousy gardener. It does not matter. I am useless at tennis and chess and doing the crawl; that does not make me think that I am beyond redemption. Everyone has their talent and gardening is not mine. I'm not taking it personally, I thought, but I shall just pull up that little clump there.

I had forgotten the base satisfaction of pulling up ground elder. Unlike the horrid buttercups, which are absolute buggers, and break away in your hand, the elder comes away easily, and sometimes you get a whole root system, worming out from under the loose earth.

Yes, I thought. And that clump there. And that one. Ha.

Before I knew it, I was shuffling about on my hands and knees, under the hawthorn and the lilac bushes, pulling and pulling. What had seemed like an insuperable task only yesterday was now a thing of gaudy delight. You bastard, I thought, I will not let you strangle my ornamental cherry.

This must be a metaphor, I thought, as I was slaying the beast. This feels like a metaphor. I could not think for what. For a moment, I was frustrated. Then I thought: sometimes weeding is just weeding. And that is quite all right.


Photographs of the day are of the growing things in the garden.

I had thought these little fritillaries quite dead, but, amazingly, here they are:

20th April

The very first of the apple blossom:

20th April 1

20th April 11-4

20th April 12-4

20th April 13-4

The cherry blossom:

20th April 10-4

A festival of green, starting with euphorbia, in a pot:

20th April 3


20th April 5


20th April 6

20th April 7

20th April 8

Grape hyacinths:

20th April 8-1

The brave little acer:

20th April 2


20th April 16-4

Dwarf euphorbia:

20th April 17-4

Shrub whose name I cannot recall:

20th April 18-4

Forget-me-nots with iris stalks in the foreground:

20th April 19-4

Most serious ladyships:

20th April 14-4

20th April 15-4

They have taken to putting on very grave faces for their photographs, I do not know why. In life, they are rather goofy and come as close as dogs can to grinning at people. Even the Duchess, for all her hauteur, has a flirty habit of staring up at people she likes with her mouth open in a smiley canine come hither, whilst she wiggles her bottom at them. She was doing it only this morning to the Brother-in-Law, whom she adores. But the moment they see the camera come out, it is as if they think they are posing for a latter-day Sir Jacob Epstein.

The hill:

20th April 20

PS. Extraordinary thanks for the kindness of yesterday's comments. The ability of the blogosphere and the dear readers to cheer one never ceases to amaze me. I cannot tell you how much you put a smile on my face.


  1. I recently came across a list of "10 tips for a mindful home". I particularly liked this one: "Rake, weed, or sweep. You'll never finish for good, but you'll learn the point of pointlessness."

    The entire list resonated with me - you can view it on my blog if you're interested:

  2. I love this, and the comment it's prompted from Mary. It seems to be inspiring other references: it took me back to a poor attempt at poetry of my own some years ago, which for interest I've stuck on a random blog of my own.

  3. I heard on the radio this morning that although green is the most prevalent color in nature, there is no plant to provide green dye. Just thought I'd share what came to mind while looking at your lovely pictures.

  4. I'm no gardner either although I love me a nice garden.
    Many years ago after just having a baby I saw some weeds from the kitchen window that needed dealing with Right Now! It was winter, midnight and I was out there on my hands and knees in just my husband's gumboots and a long tee-shirt. When I looked up my neighbour was standing there with his arms crossed and a big smile. I had been weeding his side of the path and he'd noticed me bacause I kept setting the sensor light off.

  5. Daphne, it is - the unknown shrub, I mean. Glorious slightly lemony scent! There are a couple of varieties which can spin out the flowering period, but this is the basic one. I always have some in the garden, generally on a pathway so I can smell it every day. and wonderfully, it's hardy enough to cope with our horrid Australian droughts.

    Listening to the Sawdoctors in the car. And best scruffles to the ladyships (including scratches at the base of the tail, something which sends my Bonnie into a dance of bliss)...

  6. Tania - I love the idea that the Duchess and Pigeon both reserve a special demeanour for portraits.

    Your photography is stunning. You are obviously enjoying it.


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