There is a quite young magnolia which I planted last year near the south side of the winter house, which is, for the first time, in bloom and going on and on now for well over a month with buds as dark as hushing fingers to the lips and opening to full goblets of a pale, rather run-of-the-mill purple worn by penny-candy balls. It grows with the vitality of a sturdy bush or lowish tree and is branched to the base and already possesses a fine indication of future robust symmetry. I do wish I could recall its name, but it is buried in several notebooks and today it is that I move to the summer house. It is part of the new race of magnolias with extended blooming season, probably has liliflora in its DNA. It is a fitting salute to this, our 19th season.
Nothing affects the gardening mettle more than being on view. It is stand up and be counted, back straight, chin in, fingernails tidy, pants creased, shirt collar crisp, hair combed, all in garden terms, drill time for it all, the garden’s best put forward, everything pruned and tied and weeded, all painted, polished, planted, displayed, benches and seats suitably, ingratiatingly, arrayed, hoses coiled, tools in sheds, each and every single bloom and bud at the ready with the weak supported, the failed removed, the not-ready in the shadows awaiting future display, all furniture cleaned and wiped, faucets dry, not dripping, Visitor’s Box open, books for sale amid brochures, maps, guides to a good garden visit, the weather hopefully benign (best, for me, fog or a fine mist), and yes, photographs, and no, dogs, it is Barnsley’s garden too.
And have I (I haven’t) mentioned all of the little and large painting touch-ups, oiled gates, fountains on? Oh, and the raking. Well done but not excessively. A leaf left here and there is that loved something or other you brush from a dear shoulder. If we picked flowers at Madoo, I’d have a bunch of whatever was in bloom vased at the gate as a hint.
And then the last drill, which is a slow, stern, summing walk through Madoo with notepad for errors. That bench should be a little to the left. What seems to be not at all quite done. A bit more pruning on the upper left of that ilex. What is missing is that marble vase. Goes there. And that large branch should come out. See how it shadows? I think a pot of black alocassia here but only when it is really ample and symmetrical. And let us have some mulch there. These best present bushy. Do remember to pinch the tips and keep pinching side issue. And on and on and on. It is never done. There is always wind. There is always shuttling light weaving the green cloth so that some weak threads may show, proud ones darkened by cloud. The golden moment is lost. And no one there to see it.
But taken on whole, a different story. Barnsley trots back with his coat shining. A bird zips and swoops, sings, gobbles a worm. Are those lilacs? Already?