It struck me as remarkable today that three distant memories came back to mind. It must be my memory day and that is somewhat remarkable as I genuinely have a head like a sieve – one of our sons once compared me to Homer Simpson who had said that when anything new came into his head it had to displace something already there so as to create space for itself.
A very generous gift of plants arrived in the post yesterday, rhizomes of “Benton” irises, those beautiful bearded irises bred by the artist Cedric Morris and named for his home at Benton End, Suffolk with names such as Benton Oberon, Benton Ophelia, and Benton Rubeo. Mary has admired these Irises and has managed to purchase a very few in recent years from the Beth Chatto Garden. A friend in the U.K. with whom I share an interest in growing snowdrops is also a keen grower of the Benton irises and when I told him of Mary’s admiration for them said he would send on some rhizomes when he was dividing them this year. They arrived in the yesterday’s post – twenty, yes twenty rhizomes of these beautiful plants, an absolute treasure trove. Mary was a little flabbergasted when she saw how many there were and… well, that’s where the first deja vu comes in. About thirty years ago, Mary began collecting snowdrops, a few new cultivars each year, nice and steady, bit by bit, until a friend realised she was interested in them and send on a shoebox of cultivars she didn’t have. He repeated this and Mary began to feel overwhelmed by so many new snowdrops at the one time so, I was straightaway put in charge of snowdrops in the garden. When the irises arrived yesterday – twenty new cultivars – they were similarly delegated to my care, to record them in my garden notebook, to make good labels for them and to plant them. Deja vu! The duties of the undergardener!
This morning began with an hour or more shredding a large pile of prunings and herbaceous material from the garden and adding them to the compost bin. The job was just done, all piled up on the compost heap when Mary arrived with a trug full of dahlia flowers, the results of her dead-heading old and weather-damaged blooms. It was all soft material so I just threw it onto the heap and the colour brought back a memory from Helen Dillon’s garden when she used scatter rose petals on top of her compost bin in the yard at the gable end of the house. It made for a pretty finish to what was otherwise simply a functional part garden life. For a moment, the picture was repeated here. Deja vu!
We have a plant of Colletia spinosa in the garden, a most dreadfully prickly and uncomfortable thing. It was badly damaged in a snow storm a few years back and, were it any other tree, I would have taken it out but it had a memory attached and I have held on to it though it has yet to recover and make a good shape. Before retirement, I worked for many years as a principal teacher in a very small rural school and the lady who cleaned the school was an enthusiastic gardener and it was she who gave me this plant telling me that it was call “The Resurrection Plant” and I knew from the twinkle in her eye there was a follow-up coming – “the resurrection plant because anybody who ever fell into it was certain to rise again, and quickly!” I had to prune a few wayward branches from it the other day and passed them through the shredder this morning, suffering many painful jabs to my hands in the process, bringing this wonderful lady and her comments back to mind. Deja vu!
And, today is big brother’s birthday but I forgot to wish him a Happy Birthday! – so my memory is not perfect!
However, tomorrow is our 41st wedding anniversary – yes, I remembered that one! Deja vu!