It was the Worst of Times.

Karma came and, as the Americans might say, bit me in the butt! It was inevitable, I suppose, that when I only part quoted Charles Dickens’ opening lines in A Tale of Two Cities last week, the words which followed would come to haunt me and ensure this past week was the worst of times. (Exaggeration for dramatic effect!)

However, despite my setback, the first of the snowdrops in the open garden has flowered: Galanthus ‘Barnes’
And, a first flowering here in the garden for me: Galanthus bursanus, a snowdrop only recently described and named, with a very limited range in the Bursa Valley in Turkey. All reports are that it is a good grower, a good garden plant so promises to be a valuable addition to the autumn garden.

There was no gardening whatsoever done this week, not a leaf swept, blown nor collected, not a dead herbaceous plant cut down, not a twig pruned, not a weed threatened, not a path swept, not a blade of grass subjected to hostile action. Not a thing done! That “24 hour bug”, as the doctor described it, ran for six days with a seventh in recovery before my first normal meal of the week. So, that’s my excuse for not doing a tap this week! My only outings to the garden were to take a few photographs and that was as much to get me off my backside, stretch my legs and get a bit of fresh air. Mind you, when you are not occupied with working in the garden, you do have time to notice things and, granted that most of what I noticed were the jobs I’d like to get on and do, there were also nice things to see and photograph.

We were sitting after lunch and as I looked out the window we had that odd combination of a dreadfully dark sky with bright sunshine and it caught the colouring foliage of this crabapple tree – Malus tschonoskii – wonderfully. It is a tree which for most weeks of the year is simply something in the background but when it colours in autumn and the sun lights it up it has its moment of glory:

Malus tschonoskii to the right of the photograph. Another favourite tree, the one with the white bark at centre left is Betula ‘White Light’, a cross made between Betula costata and Betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’ by John Buckley (R.I.P.), a nurseryman in Birdhill, Co. Tipperary.

As I turned from the view above and looked down the garden there was another tree having its moment in the sunshine. I love those sunshine moment and especially love it when I manage to capture them in a photograph. All too often they are fleeting moments which vanish as fast as they arrive and it really is worth dashing for the camera to catch them. This is that, at other times of the year, dreadful hawthorn – Crataegus crus-galli – which is an absolutely vicious thing as it has the most lethal thorns, up to 10cm long, which have caught me so many times as I was cutting the grass. Thankfully, as the trees (there are three in the group) have grown I have lifted the crown bit by bit until now my own crown is safe from the prods of the thorns.

Crataegus crus-galli at the bottom of the garden, catching the sunshine and shining out against the grey of the river in the background. The taller and bright tree on the right is Alnus incana ‘Aurea’

Finally, today dawned bright, calm and mild and I was delighted to make a brief return to the garden – to blow leaves from the drive, run the lawnmower on the front lawns to collect the leaves and some leaf-raking and a further run of the lawnmower on some of the back garden – it is a start and, hopefully, will be continued tomorrow!

A start to the raking!
And it looks the better for it.

However, there is no shortage of leaves to be raked and collected:

Charles Dickens’ opening lines in A Tale of Two Cities:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”

13 thoughts on “It was the Worst of Times.

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