Saturday, August 21, 2010

The scent of violets

The daffodils are blooming; the scent of violets drifts through the air. Late winter, my favourite time, when everything is full of promise. I've planted a yellow gage to replace the ancient rotting plum; I've put in grape vines to clamber up a pergola and shade the back of the house. Tiny buds are forming, once dormant roots are sending out exploratory shoots, the soil is moist and crumbly, there is a hint of warmth in the air. The almond has finished blossoming – as always, impossibly early – and is covered by soft new growth.

This year I long for shady vines and the silhouette of fig leaves against a red brick wall. I'll look for pink peach blossom and sweet ripe fruit; for the lemon tree to rally and grow; for the creepers to haul themselves up and cover fences with flower and leaf. The ruby chard is thickening, the rosemary is covered with soft shoots, and I sense possibility.

Like a sower with seed, I am casting round handfuls of rich manure and watering it in. I am clipping back scrawny growth so new shoots can grow. I am plotting, planning, piecing together a dreamy little landscape: a place of refuge, of gentleness, of love. You will know it by its lush growth and tangled vines; its fruits exploding with juice; its tantalising scents floating through the air and teasing at your nostrils; its flirty little flowers just around the path, bobbing in and out of sight.

At least, that's what I tell myself. Really, it's a mess. Weeds are knee-high; the pear's full of codlin moth; and a child stepped on my Correa and snapped it near the base. For all my plans we'll never get round to them – every weekend is a whirlwind of birthday parties and veggie shopping and piano lessons and minor illnesses and guests and cooking and laundry. Sure, I'll do what I can. I'll shut my eyes to the weeds, to the gaps left by smashed plants, to the beds that need restoration. I'll try to forget that in six months' time, the garden will be whipped by the harsh north wind and baked by the sun. I'll pretend I never cursed the day my ancestors left rainy Cornwall – and that I won't curse all those jobs that I don't do this spring.

And yet, and yet. Despite all this, and against all reason, I hold fast to my vision of being surrounded by growth, of being enfolded by a garden, of sitting and sharing a drink in the evening while friends talk and children play. The voice of despondency mutters away, but I will look for the hope which is drifting past, as elusive and energizing as the scent of violets. And because of that hope, that vision of loveliness, I will work, and watch, and wait.


  1. A vision of paradise. Late winter, early spring playing in the garden,a time of promise and renewal. Want to dig a trench and lay me down in it and sprout anew!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...