“There is peace even in the storm.”
Vincent van Gogh
Last night we had the most brilliant electrical storm. I woke up to torrents of rain cascading down the gutters and thundering on the roof. The windows were open and so the curtains were billowing. Then came the thunder and lightning.
I love a good storm, and so I got up to watch. One of my daughters joined me. We crept to the bay window in the lounge, craning our necks to see the sky.
The rain stopped, and the lightning took over.
The colours were amazing. From this window, the sky lit up pink and purple, with a mountain-range of smoky grey cutting it across the middle. The lightning would follow this line, a jagged horizontal, but dancing around.
I love getting snapshots of the garden with the irregular, split second flashes. I could see the lupin spires and the lashed heads of poppies and roses, filtered in a strange blue-green light.
Every now and again there would be a particularly impressive flash, causing us to exclaim and point. The sky split open, shattering, then mended.
It rumbled away, the broiling boil giving way to a low simmer away to the North. We yawned. Stephen had woken up, and so we watched from our bathroom window for another ten minutes. From here the light was champagne-yellow and smudgy orange. I opened the window as far as it would go and stuck my head out. I could hear the starlings’ weird burblings from behind the trees.
This morning I woke up at 5, and had that excitement to see what the storm had left behind. From upstairs there was a low rolling mist across the fields. I haven’t quite got so bold as to be rambling across the bridge and over stiles in my dressing gown, and so I couldn’t capture that, but I did photograph the garden.
Here’s the sky first, looking fairly serene, with only a memory of storm-tossed cloud.
At first glance, the rose garden appears to have emerged unscathed. The well-engineered lupins are still upright.
The gladioli always wear raindrops well.
Roses too, can just shake their heads. I love the swirl at the centre of this rose ‘Munstead Wood’. It is like the eye of a storm.
The poppies, however, are completely undone.
You can see the mist across the fields behind the bright border. I love the gentle layering of trees, and the damp diagonals of the post-and-rail fence.
The clematis covering an obelisk to the left of the rowan tree is not towering quite so high this morning. Its quiff has toppled. It will be back up by lunchtime.
Here is a foxglove in the corner that is becoming known as ‘Deathtrap Corner’.
Foxgloves are of course toxic, as are the Euphorbias that have made this place their home. For a touch of jeopardy when weeding, I have pegged down my spring-loaded Gallica rose ‘Charles de Mills’. They join the encroaching nettles and brambles leaning in from the other side of the fence. And yesterday I found a nightshade. Not ‘Deadly’, but ‘Bittersweet Nightshade’. It is rather beautiful and subtle and nuanced in this otherwise obvious minefield.
(Sorry for the blurry photo, but I was balancing on one leg trying to avoid nettles on the one hand and brambles on the other, simultaneously trying not to trigger the rose snares or poke myself in the eye with peony canes.
My cut flower raised beds are growing along nicely now, and the rain will have soaked them through. Rain is always so much more effective than watering. The plants know the difference. For those who enjoyed my posts about trees, (The Ugly Duckling Becomes a Beautiful Swan and Peach Fuzz) the walnut is the large round tree to the left, and the peach is to the right.
Here are a couple of close-ups, with Cosmos bipinatus ‘Xanthos’ in the raised bed, and some dripping cherries.
I keep meaning to show you this marvellous tree, which Stevie has identified as Robinia pseudoacacia, possibly ‘Casque Rouge’. I have long been a devotee of ‘Frisia’ thanks to my tree-obsessed dad. We inherited this lovely tree with the house, and every May it produces this mass of pinky-purple pea-like flowers, dripping from its branches a bit like laburnum. My lucky younger daughter has the tree right outside her bedroom window. It is a joy.
This next photo demonstrates a problem I have been having with my photography. I took the photo above with my iPhone. It does ok close-ups, but doesn’t blur the background as I would like it to. Stephen’s old SLR camera does blur the background nicely, but the colour is wrong (see below). It looks too bleached out. But I do like the twinkly background. I have messed with the settings (nothing will induce me to read the instructions) and my techy older daughter has fiddled, but to no avail. Ho hum.
On into the allotment, we must pause to admire Stevie’s grapevines.
And his elegantly entwined runner beans. I love that they space each coil perfectly. They seem to be twisting in an anti-clockwise direction. Is this always the case, I wonder?
At the bottom of the allotment, I have guerrilla-gardened a hedge of roses. There are Rosa rugosa, both ‘Rubra’ and ‘Alba’, and Rosa ‘Wild Edric’. The Rosa rugosa were bought as whips at £1.50 a piece. ‘Wild Edric’ was not. He is plumper by far, and produces a mass of equally plumptious blooms. They are just waiting to burst. I will have to devote a whole post to this hedge, such is my pride in it!
Do you remember Meadow Update! Seedballs! ? Here is how the experiment is going. Not exactly a softly swaying swishy meadow yet. But patience is required. The plug plants (right at the back and difficult to see) are starting to produce flower-stems. They have all survived. The scattered seed had a good germination rate, though is dominated at present by one species which could be forget-me-nots, with a smattering of poppies. The seedballs are a bit of a mystery. It is hard to know if they germinated or not, or whether the sparse germination is just seeds that were either present in the soil or have blown in on the breeze. I guess I will know when they get bigger. So, still a work-in-progress!
Before we go in for our first cup of tea, can I just invite you to admire my lime tree, Tillia x europaea? It is just dripping with loveliness.