Although beautiful photographs of beautiful gardens are clearly worth seeing - simple garden snaps can sometimes say a lot about us and be treasured because of it.
Here's one in point. I took it of my garden this afternoon.
At first glance, you will see a not very well composed picture with cowslips in the foreground and some pots and things further back. Yet this is a picture which has gone straight to my heart because it is throbbing, absolutely throbbing with our family - our likes, dislikes and history.
For instance - top left, there is a blue blob on the ground. This is a soggy towel. My husband has a bad back. (The main reason we gave up our allotment.) When it gets particularly uncomfortable, he goes swimming and swims in a special way that alleviates the pain and strengthens the muscles. When he comes home, he ties his trunks to the line by the strings that hold them up and he flings the towel over the line without using any pegs. This, he says, distinguishes it from the washing that's been washed - as opposed to unwashed washing - like his trunks. So . . . come the wind and the rain, what does his towel do? It flies off, of course, and swishes around the garden knocking pots over and splatting seedlings. Then I go out and disentangle the towel from whatever plant has been strong enough to detain it and I dump it somewhere prominent. Then I pick up the pots and re-pot the plants. Then I go and complain about people who leave un-pegged trunks out in storms. Then we both leave the towel on the ground for a week. Eventually, I'll get round to picking it up, I suppose. Meanwhile, it sits there as a visible protest.
You can see, too, that I'm going through a burst of efficiency. See all the little plant labels? Very unusual. They all say 'Oxeye Daisy'. It's pretty obvious that's what they are because they don't look in the least like lupins or black basil or any of the other seedlings. But I'm proud I got as far as labelling them. Reformation has to begin somewhere.
Then there are the stones which divide the path from the border. They are Purbeck Marble. Purbeck Marble isn't marble and we got it from a quarry on Portland where they quarry Portland Stone, not Purbeck Marble. They had a little stack of Purbeck Marble they didn't want so they gave it to us. I never knew why they had it. Sampling the opposition, perhaps. They also gave us a big lump of Portland Stone so we could have our house name carved on it. It has stayed (in the way) in the back garden ever since. We can't lift it and it has nothing carved on it. I don't suppose it ever will. It would be a bit pretentious, we think, having lived with a number for twelve years, suddenly to pop up with a name instead. If I had raised the camera a little higher, you would have seen it poking unbecomingly above the box bushes - but then you wouldn't have seen the Purbeck Marble. Can't have everything.
Maybe you've noticed the froth of little white flowers to the left of the cowslips? They are what many would call weeds. I call them free plants and leave them because they are pretty. If they become too profuse, I pull them up. They are shallow rooted so it's not a problem.
This picture tells a lot too.
I've been doing my own research about what happens if you don't water plants. The answer, on the whole - is that they die. I knew that before I started but I hadn't expected there to be as little rain as there has been which means I hadn't expected as many to die as have done. These wallflowers have made it all worth while. I confess (I'm sorry) I did water them when they were seedlings and I did succumb to watering them very occasionally through the winter - say, about three times. But they have flowered non-stop like this all the way through. From autumn to spring they have been at it. (I took this picture this afternoon.) There are two plants here. Each one is growing in a hole in a brick. (You know those bricks with lots of holes, each about half an inch in diameter? Them.) I filled each hole with earth. Put a seed in - and . . . voila!
The big orange pot on the stand behind is part of my leave-a-pot-somewhere-and-see-what-comes-to-live-in-it experiment. In this case, a dandelion. On the extreme left of the picture (so extreme you can't really tell it's there) is a trough where nettles have moved in. A couple of other pots around the garden have become hosts to more conventional plants, self seeded from ones I am consciously growing elsewhere - red veined sorrel, foxgloves, aquilegia. They are in various states of disrepair. I haven't watered the nettles even once. The others, I didn't water for ages and ages then, all of a sudden, I got a tight grip of my brain and said 'If you want to water the plants you can. They are in your garden. You choose. Don't be a slave to science.' That kind of thing. So, I watered them twice. What happens? Major parts of southern England are now under flood. It's the same with the washing. How to make it rain? Hang washing on the line!
And last - Honesty. This is a plant I loved as a child. I didn't know about the flowers. It was the seeds (old-style penny sized white coins) that I liked. I suspect you may have already guessed that I come from a family with rigorous opinions. When I was a child, the next generation up had rigorous opinions about honesty. I don't know why. But requests for honesty in the garden were met with disdain. It was as if they weren't quite the done thing. But now . . . freedom! I have three honesty plants; presents from my husband and children. They had been on an expedition. Looking for the North Pole somewhere to the South of Dorchester, something like that . . . and they came across a little stall outside someone's house . . . and bought me three honesty plants. (Three honesty plants, one primrose and a delphinium.)
I do like life!