Friday, 29 July 2011


Posted by Tania Kindersley.

I buy more plants. If in doubt, there must be the getting of plants. I get three cyclamen, a small cotinus shrub, so dark in colour it is like very ancient, venerable claret, three bright laurels, some rosemary, and some more lavender.

When I get back, I discover that the next Test has started, and England have suffered a catastrophic batting collapse. That’s not right, I think. I hardly dare listen to the end of Test Match Special, but then lovely Stuart Broad stages a tremendous rally, and saves England’s blushes. I find myself oddly excited by this. I did not quite expect that, as I entered the middle of middle age, I should turn into a cricket nut. I also never expected that I should find a game that goes on for five days, and quite often ends in a draw, so edge of the seat exciting.

The sun comes out, and I go outside to look at the evening light. The Older Niece comes past. I drag her into the garden to look at the cyclamen. She very kindly admires them.

‘And look at the blue planting,’ I say.

‘Yes,’ she says. ‘The blue planting.’

I fear I am becoming a garden bore, and that the family is being very, very polite about it.

Then the Brother roars up. He is wearing an interesting hat.

‘Come and look at the cyclamen,’ I say.

So then he too admires the cyclamen.

We stand in the yellow light, thick as honey, and talk about mortality.

‘I’m having a bit of trouble getting past the everybody dies thing,’ I say.

‘Oh yes,’ he says. ‘Well, that is a thing. It’s a bastard.’

We talk of concepts of the soul, fear of death, the Dalai Lama, and Plato. The usual stuff.

He gets back into the car.

‘Where are you going?’ I say. ‘In your special hat.’

‘To buy anchovies,’ he says.

The Pigeon gives him a big grin. He drives off. I think: yes, there are all the big questions about life and death, but there still must be anchovies.


Here is the astonishing Scottish light:

On the astrantias:

29 July 1

The amazing new cyclamen:

29 July 2

29 July 3

The faithful old salvia:

29 July 4

The new blue planting of the geraniums:

29 July 5

The view over my garden gate, to the south:

29 July 6

29 July 7

The Cotinus tree:

29 July 8

The blue and white bed, which now has a splash of vivid colour in it:

29 July 9

The lavender:

29 July 11

The trees:

29 July 12

29 July 14

Today’s hill:

29 July 18

And, saving the best for last, the smiling face of my Pigeon:

29 July 19

29 July 20

Oh, oh, oh, that face.

I think: one cannot get too exercised about mortality when there is that face to gaze upon.


  1. Oh Pigeon, what a beautiful sight you are on a fairly glum Friday evening.

    Tania, does everyone in your family go in for splendid headgear?

  2. The cyclamens are beautiful, and I particularly like their placement.

    I think you are going to have to show us a picture of the interesting hat, now that you've told us about it!

  3. Never having visited your gorgeous part of the world, I can't say if this is even relevent, but here, on my little patch of planet Earth, the time from just 10 or 15 minutes after sunset till one can barely distinguish color...that's the blue "hour," the most wonderful time of day, in my opinion. It's when magic happens, the aromas on the air are...what?...heavier? It's when the owls come to the edge of wooded thickets to wait for their suppers to scamper past (nature does take its course, after all). I suspect your twilight glows a bit more than mine, but it is a wonderful time of day. Thanks a ton for sharing yours.

  4. Do you know I am basking in your summer and your stunning Scottish slice of the world? Because it is a bit grim and wet here and then you give some flowers and green and a hill and then That Face. Thank you xxx

  5. I am taking a break from packing to eat breakfast and read your latest post. We are going 'Up North' on holiday and this is enough reason for me to caper around the house, collecting walking boots and thick socks and old t-shirts and occasionally squealing with excitement like a child on Christmas Eve.

    All I could think of after reading this post was, 'I'm sure I know a bit of poetry about cyclamen...' It was from the introduction of a thin volume called 'Plant Names Simplified' that I picked up in a book sale in the museum in St Andrews. Anyway, I ran upstairs to find the book (underneath The Flower Fairy Alphabet, happily enough), and here is the poem for you:

    How shall we sound its mystic name
    Of Greek descent and Persian fame?
    Shall 'y' be long and 'a' be short,
    or will the 'y' and 'a' retort?
    Shall 'y' be lightly rippled o'er,
    Or should we emphasise it more?
    Alas! the doctors disagree,
    for 'y's a doubtful quantity.
    Some people use it now and then,
    as if 'twere written 'sickly men';
    But as it comes from 'kuklos', Greek,
    why not 'kick-laymen', so to speak?
    The gardener, with his ready wit,
    Upon another mode has hit;
    he's terse and brief - long names dislikes,
    And so he renders it as 'Sykes'.

    This was uncredited - coming from 'the pages of an old-time gardening periodical'.

  6. So many times I have stopped by, read and then smiled out loud (if one can) at your words. Hats and anchovies...perfect bedfellows! Lou x

  7. All that beauty - Don't waste a second.

  8. thanks
    rain down
    drenched sunbeams
    wordsmiths' rapiers

    with thanks from 'louise'


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