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.