Monday, 4 July 2011

Weeks of Perfume

In Chester near where I live the lime trees are all in flower and the scent is magnificent. Bees love these flowers. Years ago when I was ill in a local cottage hospital the night nurse Theresa told me how one hot summer she came home one day to find her lawn covered in drunk bumble bees - they'd overdosed on the lime tree outside her house and couldn't move! A bit like the way humans behave on Friday nights in Chester....

It's a time of perfume; lavender is in bloom in my garden, the rose Albertine, and sweet rocket, that old-fashioned cottage flower that few people grow now but I grow it near a seat. At night its scent fills the garden.
Privet is in flower too and its scent always takes me straight back to a house I once lived in by the sea. It had a "burgage" garden, a very long, thin strip of land bordered by privet hedges (nearly three hundred yards of hedge- a lot of cutting!). In the evening, to stroll down the path was to be accompanied by the flutter and dart of hundreds of night moths feeding on the privet blossom. Further down the garden there was a dense bed of evening primrose and in June this was always the site of ghost swift moths dipping and lifting over the flowers, like frail floating scraps of paper.. I have always tried to plant my gardens to attract insects; a summer without insect hum and flight is no summer at all.
In my garden here I have a self-seeded thick stand of poppies and in the morning when they open the flowers are full of bees and hoverflies; as the day goes on and the petals fall on these highly ephemeral flowers the bees move on to the borage and the lavender. I so love to watch them. A good stretch of "sitting and staring", or standing and staring, as W H Davies recommended is called for in these fine summer days of glorious scent and fulsomeness.

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