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:
The very first of the apple blossom:
The cherry blossom:
A festival of green, starting with euphorbia, in a pot:
The brave little acer:
Shrub whose name I cannot recall:
Forget-me-nots with iris stalks in the foreground:
Most serious ladyships:
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.
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.