Derek – Friday 8th October 2020

These autumn days, there are only a few flowers left in the garden. One that keeps going is the marigold. Not the French or the African variety, but the common marigold (Calendula officinalis). A well known flower grown in gardens across the UK, with its orange daisy-like blooms. There’s a clump in the garden that has been blooming for six months. I wonder if, with care and deadheading, the plant could flower all year.

A clue to the plant’s long flowering is in the botanical name, Calendula. This has the same root as calendar, and refers to the fact that the plant can flower throughout the year. The marigold is said to be the Virgin Mary’s favourite flower, hence the name. My reaction to this is: says who? Or as they say, more politely, on Wikipedia, ‘citation needed’. I am reminded of Mark Twain’s remark when on his world travels. He said that he had seen enough nails of the cross to ‘fill a bucket’.

There are a few other plants in flower, like the pot of California poppies near the pond, glowing gold to compete with the marigolds. Nearby is an ice plant, with its pink bunches of florets and small thick lettuce-like leaves. By the back stage, the bristly ox tongue has been knocked about by the wind and rain, but offers a few dandelion-like flowers and small clocks of parachutes. There’s purple toadflax here and there. That’s another plant that flowers on and on. And Viburnam tinus, along the fence by the buddleia, is on cue with its clusters of tiny white flowers.

I was a garden host on Sunday morning. After twenty minutes, pouring with rain, with no sign of it stopping, we closed the garden. We had the equivalent of a month’s rain last Friday and over the weekend. All our barrels are full. They always are when you don’t need the water. The pond is up to the brim, the water clear and fresh. While it was raining, I took photos of the ripples made by the raindrops: perfect concentric circles in amorphous light and shade, reminiscent of Rothko abstracts.

Leaves are attired in autumn hues. Those of the sycamore are bright yellow, the vine’s by the pergola are red. The colours are present all along, masked by the green of chlorophyll. But once the plant shuts down sustenance to the leaves, the chlorophyll cells die and the green fades, leaving the underlying colour.

There’s a large, garden-crucifix spider in the centre of a web in the yucca, at the back of the pond. It’s been there a month, framed by the decorative glass in one of our doors. I am impressed the arachnid has been able to hang on through the wind and rain. Though spiders’ webs are flexible, that’s certainly been tested in this weather. I hope the spider finds a mate. Such endurance deserves favour.

The teff, one of our last cereals, is in a cardboard box that has held out for six months, but is now on the verge of total collapse. The deluge has been too much for it. I am tempted to leave it, and watch the final stages of its demise. Some tidier gardener, though, might just toss it on the compost heap.

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