Friday, 31 July 2009

The glad game

I don’t know if you are familiar with the book Pollyanna by Eleanor H Porter – it is generally sold as a children’s book, but as with all the best books for children there is plenty for adult readers to think about, and it still makes me sob every time I read it. And not just at the end – I am usually in tears as soon as Pollyanna arrives on the scene. But then I have always been a bit of a bleeding heart – actually, no, not always – only since I have had children. I was quite carefree up until then, but it seems that those emotional hormones that were switched on by pregnancy were never switched off again.

However, I am digressing, as usual. I will try not to. Pollyanna is an orphaned clergyman’s daughter, but with (heartbreaking) prescience her dear, departed papa taught her the glad game before he died, and as Pollyanna tells us, ‘the game was to just find something about everything to be glad about – no matter what ‘twas.’ And Pollyanna manages to find something to be glad about, however dreadful the situation: she is heartbreaking and hilarious at one and the same time.

So taking a lesson from Pollyanna I decided to look once again at my rather jaded, rather messy, late summer cottage garden, which looks like paradise on earth for the first two weeks in June, and then seems to slide downhill ever after. I always tell myself that all the flowers have gone by August – and yet, when I looked more closely, I found all sorts of beautiful blooms all around me. Maybe that mass of blowsy perfection has departed, but there are still many small pockets of exquisiteness. It is just a matter of taking the time to look and to find something to be glad about.

So in the spirit of the glad game, here are some glads for you – I have always told myself that I don’t like gladioli. There is the name, for a start, rather ugly, and hinting at pretentiousness. And I always have an image of stiff blooms in harsh colours. Yet these gladioli counter all my irrational prejudices: the colours are so pretty, ice-creamlike in their pinkness. A couple of stems bunched together with purple lavender make a lovely present for a hostess (and you know how much I like presents!). And these are bonus glads – Princess Bunchy planted the corms last year, having bought them from a pick and mix display in the nursery. They flowered last year, and have come up again this year, in spite of a regime of benign neglect.

Like Ophelia, I come larded with sweet flowers and can list my blooms for you, but I can quite sensibly tell you that they are all very pretty and so easy (and cheap) to grow.

And the fact that they are flowering so well now is a function of my lackadaisicalness – I was far too preoccupied with my vegetables in early spring, so I didn’t sow the cornflowers and love-in-the-mist until quite late, and I put them directly into the soil.

The marigolds and nicotiana were sown in trays and potted on, but again I did not get round to planting them out until they were quite large and pot-bound – but it does not seem to have troubled them too much. Nicotiana flowers open towards the end of the day, and their scent is sweet and strong at night - plant them near where you sit in the evening, or under a window, so that you don't miss out on their ethereal nocturnal beauty. They shine out so whitely in the dark, and look so luminous.

And if I’m not too enthusiastic with my weeding over the winter and spring the marigolds will most certainly reseed themselves all over the garden, and save me some work next year.

The clarkia was sown into a tray and was then forgotten about behind the polytunnel – by the time that I planted it out it was half-dead from lack of water, but clarkia is such a toughie it has recovered completely and now stands pink and robust as you can see.

The feverfew started from one plant many years ago, and has been travelling round and round the garden since. If you make sandwiches from the leaves, it will apparently cure migraine - but I am not sure if any old feverfew will do. I think medical advice would be advisable on that one!

I am not sure of the name of the pink one, possibly soapwort, but this was originally a little slip from my grandmother’s garden. It spreads invasively by runners and I curse it every spring, and forgive it every August.

The sea holly was a plant that I bought rather than grew from seed, but this is a longlasting late-summer charmer, too – I love its sculptural quality, and it provides a good framework plant in flower arrangements.

And to make a good end, my wonderful lavender is still going strong, and keeping my friends the bees very busy. So there are more than glads to be glad about, and I hope you have plenty of gladness in your garden, too.


Diane said...

Many thanks for visiting my blog. My colleague and I play the "Glad" game every day at work - its the only thing thats gets us through the day!! I love the book, and also the film - with "the" best child actor of all time - Hayley Mills. I'll be reading the rest of your blog, but on 1st glance, it looks delightful. xx

Pipany said...

Such beautiful pictures pomona and much envy at your sunshine. Nothing but rain here in Cornwall...sigh x

saraeden said...

Your flowers look gorgeous , its raining again here and my garden is a bit wet but it is doing the plants the world of good or so they keep telling me !!
I think i will try the glad game .

Sara x

Michela said...

..a little corner of Paradise!
Have a nice Sunday Pomona!
P.S.What's the meaning of your lovely name?

andamento said...

"looks like paradise on earth for the first two weeks in June, and then seems to slide downhill ever after"
- that's exactly how I feel about my garden too! So glad to know I'm not alone...

LittleGem said...

Hello, thankyou for the lovely comment, I am so glad you found my blog! Your flowers in this post are just beautiful :) I am now a follower by the way! XX Gem

Menopausal musing said...

Thanks for visiting me and leaving comment about the lovely bag I won in a "give awyay"........ I used to love the Pollyana story... my favourite part was the part with the prisms hung up at the window. These books stay with you, don't they. Lovely Clarkias, been a few years since I have grown any. I have resurrected Helychrisums this year (a real throw back to my late teens/early twenties!!). Great blog. :O)

BusyLizzie said...

Pollyanna was one of my fave books & I still have "pollyanna moments" to this day! Lizzie


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