Thursday, August 14, 2008

Apple cake and Anna Pavord

Anna Pavord came to see the garden yesterday. I've known Anna for quite a while: we worked together when I was editing The Independent Magazine, for which Anna writes a column every Saturday, and we were also colleagues on The Observer Magazine. It's always lovely to see her. She's a very warm, charming person who manages to seem very interested in everything, not just gardens. There is absolutely nothing of the grande dame about her, despite the fact that in terms of garden writing, she is a very grande dame indeed.
She had very kindly offered to write an article about my garden in advance of our NGS opening, which was brilliant as I knew it would be good publicity. However, it meant that although I was looking forward to seeing her, the anticipation was tinged with apprehension. What if she hated the garden? She would be too polite to say so, of course, but you can always tell...
She arrived early, which was good as I didn't have time to start fretting. On the other hand, I didn't have time to do all the things I'd promised myself I'd whizz round and do before she came, like sweep up bamboo droppings or the ash leaves and eucalyptus bark that seems to litter our lawn every day. We sat her down and plied her with coffee and home-made apple cake, and her initial impressions, both of the garden and the apple cake, seemed to be very favourable.
The things she seemed to like most were the textures, and the oddities. We have a big tree fern and I told her how my son had taken a frond to draw for an art project at school. He'd left it on the windowsill (it was a bit smaller then), and a couple of days later, picked it up and found the spores had left behind an almost perfect impression of the leaf. Anna told me how she'd been involved in a poetry project in which one of the writers had written about this 'ghost' leaf effect.
She liked the Montezuma pine, too, though she thought its long needles looked more like the manes of shaggy ponies than little dogs. She loved the rust-coloured new leaves of the Tetrapanax, and their softness, like a mouse's fur.
She even seemed to like my new potted herb garden, which was rather a relief. I was quite pleased with it, but I'd thrown it together in such a hurry, I couldn't really tell if it worked, or if I was merely relieved to have finished it.
The lack of pictures on this blog is rapidly becoming an embarrassment. It was glorious sunshine when Anna was here this morning, but of course I was so busy telling her all about the garden, I forgot to take a picture of her. As I write this, Declan, the photographer from The Independent Magazine, is trying to take pictures in torrential rain, with backing vocals from rolling thunder, to accompany Anna's article. At one point, it was raining so hard, he had to take refuge in the shed. However, he shamed me into going out with my camera, so here are a selection of pictures of a very wet garden, very wet leaves, the very wet new step/thingie and the very wet potted herb garden. The leaves look rather good, as if they've been polished, or varnished. Enjoy!
PS: Anna's article will be in The Independent Magazine on Saturday 30 August (I hope), the day before we open the garden.
PPS: It's stopped raining. But I'm still wearing my fleece. Inside the house. And it's August, for goodness' sake.

The new potted herb garden

The new step/thingie. Exciting, isn't it?

Raindrops on Pinus montezumae. The chain is for a bird feeder, which I took down to stop it banging the photographer on the head

Fig leaves in the rain

Euphorbia characias 'Portuguese Velvet'

Bergenia 'Ballawley' looking suitably tropical

A wet red banana