Yes, we stopped for afternoon tea today; something very different for us as we wouldn’t usually do so. Now, before going further, let me comment on “afternoon tea”. This is certainly a British, perhaps more especially, an English practice – tea in the late afternoon, 4 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time. I am of a generation and background where there was no such thing as afternoon tea; nor, for that matter, lunch. Our meals were breakfast, dinner (middle of the day) and tea, around 6 p.m. In Ireland, there could be a cup of tea at any time of the day – with breakfast, mid-morning, with dinner, mid-afternoon, at tea-time and with supper, a late evening tea.
So, what you may ask, brought about this change of schedule and practice today! Well, we received an email from one of the garden clubs of which we are members – The Alpine/Hardy Plant Society Cork – telling us of a series of mid-afternoon online gardening talks using the Zoom platform but, more especially, telling us that the leading light of that society, Hestor Forde, would be making this afternoon’s presentation, speaking of spring in her own garden.
For people with less experience of Zoom than I – and I am a one-day expert now – it is like Skype but seems capable of hosting a large number of people. There were about 100 logged on for this afternoon’s session. It is a platform which allows a “meeting” between multiple people, each person visible in a series of small preview screens – very like a strip of film negatives along the top of the laptop screen with the person speaking in a larger central screen. Each person could normally contribute to a conversation but our microphones were muted – obviously, somebody has an administrative role in the meeting. There was an option to post comments by text, which appeared briefly so all watching could see them. The intention in this setting was to allow viewers pose questions to be answered at the end of the presentation.
We joined a few minutes before the 4 p.m. starting time. There was some informal exchanges between the organisers as Hester prepared for the off. It was possible to see those logging in to view the event and I recognised a few names: There was Joe and Mary from Cork, “Reidy” might be a friend nearer home and “Maeve” might well have been a friend in Belfast.
There was a brief introduction from organisers, Annie Guilfoyle and Noel Kingsbury, and centre screen was given to Hester where she organised her Powerpoint presentation of photograph slides and launched into her talk in much the style of the regular talks we have at garden clubs – a series of photographs with the speaker commenting on these. Unfortunately, the gremlins decided this was their time to make a mess of matters and there were difficulties with both sound and picture due to poor broadband service from Hester’s location – such a note appeared on screen several times.
This brought our Afternoon Tea viewing to an end and we returned to the real world of gardening, Mary to weeding one of the beds and I to finish cutting the grass. It would seem one cannot so easily overcome one’s background and rearing – afternoon tea is simply not for us! On a serious note, it was disappointing not to be able to see Hester give her talk but I’m sure we will have another opportunity.
You can find general information on these Afternoon Tea Talks at: https://www.gardenmasterclass.org/online
You can read blogs and see podcasts at: https://www.gardenmasterclass.org/blog-and-podcasts
And you can see past broadcasts, and future ones as they are added, on the You Tube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXrC79EfhuQJjBPXd4wzGHg/
One that I recommend is Long Barn – Vita Sackville West’s First Garden by Rebecca Lemonius.
For want of any photograph/illustration from today’s programme I have added a few shots of Papaver orientalis ‘Beauty of Livermere’ which opened its first flower in the garden today.