For The Bees

Between stints in the garden today, which varied from overcast-gloom to sun-bright, I finished reading Chekhov’s engaging story entitled ‘Teacher of Literature” (1894).

Essentially tracing the journey from childhood hardship to the consequences of unearned comfort the tale is told with human insight and with delightful bucolic descriptions. I will not reveal the changes in the main protagonist’s thoughts, but I accept the judgement of translator Elisaveta Fen that ‘The theme is among Chekhov’s favourite ones – the emptiness of mere material prosperity with no prospect of change, [and] the tedium of provincial life….’

There is no drawing to this story in my Folio Society edition.

My first spell in the garden, before lunch, involved clearing, bagging up, and transporting to the compost bin the refuse from the Head Gardener’s weeding and clippings.

The air was brighter after lunch when I weeded

another of the narrow brick footpaths between the Rose Garden beds. Silent woodlice slipped away from my scraping tools, and the water feature bubbled whenever the sun peeped out. Once again the path was too wet to sweep clean.

Even after another night of rain, many floppy blooms are beginning to raise their heads. Here we have the prolific peach-coloured Doris Tysterman; Festive Jewel, Aloha, and For Your Eyes Only in various shades of pink; the white Créme de la créme; the blushing Shropshire Lad; the prolific Gloriana; a rambling Ballerina; the aptly named Peach Abundance; a spreading Perennial Blush; and rich red Ernest Morse.

The elder shrub Sambucus nigra now rivals Altissimo in height.

While I wandered around with my camera Jackie, from her perch in the Weeping Birch Bed, pointed out the buds on the sculptural New Zealand flax.

Some three or four years ago our friend Giles, who has his own welcoming wildlife garden, gave us a twiggy stem of Vipers Bugloss with which to attract bees.

This boon for bees now dominates the far end of the Back Drive and lives up to its magnetic billing.

This evening we dined on tender baked gammon; new potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and piquant cauliflower cheese with which Jackie drank Hoegaarden and I drank more of the Cabernet Sauvignon.


  1. My first spell in the garden, before lunch, involved clearing, bagging up, and transporting to the compost bin the refuse from the Head Gardener’s weeding and clippings.– I knew you served a delightful purpose. Good husband. The pictures are wonderful too.

  2. We saw a great specimen of Sambucus nigra in a garden today – it’s on my list of plants for our new garden when we move. Of course, Julia doubts this will ever happen, as I am so well-versed in procrastination and inertia…

  3. I di not realize Vipers Bugloss was such a bee magnet and might get some of that if it will thrive in our area –
    and the series of flowers after the Chechov update was a wonderful scroll
    – and the Chekov themes are quite area to me – especially these:

    consequences of unearned comfort
    emptiness of mere material prosperity

  4. I’m glad the beautiful blue bugloss is doing so well for the bees. That photo of Jackie perched with the birch is my favorite so far. I always enjoy her smile.

  5. Another delightful peep at your garden, along with the reminder that such beauty needs a helping pair or two of hands.

  6. What a wonderful display of beautiful roses – petals like soft velvet. I hope there are not too many fallen ones, after this heavy rain.
    Your original gift of twiggy stemmed Vipers Bugloss has certainly blossomed too – what a wonderfully named plant, and so good to see the bees happily visiting, despite the less than welcoming weather!

  7. Okay Derrick, here we go. Sambucus negra I believe is a member of the elderberry family or vice versa. But the Italian liqueur Sambuca Negra is flavoured with star anise. So what is the connection?
    Second point, the other day you mentioned Chekhov and I said I ought to read him. Browsing through my shelf I found “Lady with a lapdog and other stories” and as soon as I started reading they all came flooding back. So thanks for the prompting.

  8. Love seeing your captures of the bees at work/in action! They have a smorgasbord of beautiful flowers to choose from! 🙂
    Looks like so many of the flowers survived the recent rain. Good! 🙂
    We have plants here that attract bees and one plant that attract the butterflies. They do work. 🙂

  9. So, you mentioned woodlice, and I rushed to do a search on them. Aha! I know them as slaters, and now know they are very important critters in the scheme of things. I didn’t know that they are crustaceans! And, they look like tiny armadillos.

    “Coming to a venue of fine dining near you: grilled slaters”.

    1. They do look like armadillos – I knew there was a simile I could use, but couldn’t think of it. I should have asked you. Thanks very much. Skip tonight’s food menu. 🙂

  10. Such beautiful flower photos. I particularly love the photos with the bees. But my favorite today is the photo of Jackie smiling in the greenery.

  11. The gardens at summer solstice look so beautiful and inviting! You and Jackie have done a wonderful job there, Derrick!

    We are heading into 90 degree weather here this week.

  12. So glad you’re taking care of the bees! I love the prolific peach-coloured Doris Tysterman. It’s my favorite! Lovely photo, {Derrick}}}. <3

  13. Beautiful these roses of your garden, I can almost get the scent. This Vipers Bugloss is new to me but I love how it’s a plant that’s attractive to bees. I love your descriptions of what you are reading. I only ever saw a play by Chekhov called the Cherry Orchard, but that was about 50 years ago!

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