It’s been a month since I moved back into the house-house and I finally managed to start work on the garden this past Saturday. Mostly filled the green bin and took a load of stuff to the recycling centre. Interestingly, since the first lockdown last spring the garden refuse bay at the centre has grown exponentially in size to be the biggest one.
I’ve whined a lot about our autumn weather here – that it is mostly wet and grey and dreary. We don’t do proper winter most years (we had two snowstorms a few years ago and everything, and I do mean everything, stopped for around four days – it was beautiful and eerie). Around 10 years ago we visited my father in New York in December, leaving the UK right before a big storm was due on the East Coast. We got diverted to Minnesota, spent all day in the airport, finally arriving at Kennedy and getting into a taxi at around 3 AM. The taxi driver (who got a huge tip) navigated us safely through heavy snow to Park Slope. The next day my son got to go sledding for the first time. He still talks about it.
Autumn here has its specific smells (damp, silage when muck is being spread on fields) – and the garden, which has received no attention at all for eight months, seems to be rebelling. My idea of good garden smell is turned dirt, flowers and herbs.
Right now, mine smells of rotten apples from the little tree; standing water and rotting leaves; and rotting wood (I pulled out a wooden post to discover the base had rotted away – going to have to be careful with dog around that till I dig out the wood bits). So, a lot of rot. It doesn’t smell great out there, and it’s going to take another month to get everything cut back, removed and moved around – at which point I’ll be able to look at the garden and start thinking about what to do. Gardeners’ World ended two Fridays ago and won’t be back till the spring. So, I’m down to my gardening books now.
I like my garden best spring through summer and into early autumn, before the deluge. I’ve got enough stuff that sings during that period to make the place really lovely. And part of my plan for changes is to add to that fragrant array. My lily of the valley arrived. It will go in a pot this time as I’ve learned my lesson from the past – LOTV doesn’t like the clay dirt in my garden. The tuberose from last summer will also move from one pot to another. I’m hoping with enough grit in the compost and good drainage both will perform next spring and summer.
I’ve never come up with a perfume that smells the way my garden does at its best – or a candle for that matter. I have a great l’Artisan candle which is meant to be the fresh green sappiness of springtime and it smells very good, but it doesn’t smell like my garden during April to May.
I have had jasmine perfumes – they aren’t quite as both strong and fresh as the jasmine bush that blooms in high summer (and still has flowers on it now). And on and on with roses, etc. I guess that’s why I favour perfumes that don’t promise ‘natural’ but instead tell some sort of abstracted story, and also why I mostly steer clear of what are supposed to be single note wonders.
But today what I’m smelling most are Sara’s pastries (from Sara’s Petite Cuisine bakery in Topsham — couldn’t get pics from her site as they work as a moving gallery). We needed a few out-of-the-ordinary celebratory things this weekend, so the house smells of warm blueberry and buttermilk cake; cinnamon and cardamom buns; almond croissants; and pain au chocolate. Reminds me of the magic you read about in the Joanne Harris book Chocolat and Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate.
Have a good week.