Posts Tagged ‘Flowers’

Night-scented Flowers



Last year, he planted two lines of Nicotania along the short path from his back door to the walled end of his garden. He works hard, and it is a small, but intense pleasure to greet them each evening. All those daylight hours he has spent in the computer-glare of his office, they have shaded themselves from the sun. They wait for dusk, and his return, to lift their white faces towards him and fill his garden with their sweet, nighttime scent.


Inspired by Matthew’s answers to my Garden Questions


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image: anee.baba

Inside, the cactus spills its blousy pink flowers over the windowsill, their mouths reaching for floorboards that used to be oak trees. Outside, the day holds its dull skies as though it’s as bored of winter as she is. She stands at the window and considers the abandoned garden – lines of shrivelled fuchsia leaves, ferns tangled into dry brown curls. The glass is cold beneath her palm, and she remembers – for the first time in years – the botanical gardens in Edinburgh: condensation like tears running down the glasshouse walls; all that hot green abandonment on the inside.

The woman she was with told her how glass is made: sand shovelled into a red-hot furnace, and then poured like spitting molten gold into cold water. ‘Can you believe that?’ she’d said, ‘Sand?’ They had talked about taking a holiday in Mauritius, escaping the dreariness of winter in Scotland; running across the beach for a swim before breakfast – sand between their toes.

She traces a line down the kitchen window and promises the fuchsias and the ferns, the daffodil bulbs she’s tucked into the soil – soon, soon, soon.

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Lemon verbena

photo: stereogab

K planted lemon verbena because it reminded her of her mother. There had been times, recently, when she found she couldn’t bring her mother’s face, or the tone of her voice to mind. They span her into a panic, these blank moments, sent her running for the line of photo albums in the room they called ‘the study’. She would sit and stare at her mother’s image, until she didn’t seem quite so far away.

Her mother had been one for pot pourri. When she died, K had gathered up a flotilla of tiny bowls crammed with cinnamon, chamomile, and the dried leaves of lemon verbena. She wished, later, that she hadn’t tipped the lot of it into one of the hundreds of dustbin liners she’d filled that month. As way of an apology, she visited the garden centre she suspects is going out of business and bought a lemon verbena in an orange plastic pot. The checkout assistant told her that if she drank it as a tea, it would stop her from dreaming. It hasn’t worked yet, but when she needs to, she rubs her fingers against its citrus leaves and finds some comfort in that.

Inspired by K.Austin’s answer to the question What’s your favourite garden smell? on July 29, 2010 at 8:01 am

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Sudden, treacherous gifts

It was over, they’d agreed that; had spent a long night unpicking and retying threads, getting everything in order. She’d woken the next morning, her head heavy with the wine they’d been saving for a special occasion, her heart bruised. But at least it was clear, she told her friends – herself – at least it was a clean, sharp break; nothing messy.

And now these: a cellophane wrapped cacophony of British Blooms. Brash trumpeting Hollyhocks, blousy Petunias, snooty Irises, and great unwieldy branches of privet, sitting on her doorstep, waiting to ruin her day.

Inspired by Damyanti’s answer to the question What do flowers mean to you? on July 16, 2010 at 11:48 am

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The porcelain horse

Photo: Hellen Fordham

She inherited the vase from her mother – a porcelain horse with a melancholy face, its flanks patterned with pink flowers, a small circular hole in the centre of its spine.

She remembers the first time she cut flowers from the garden and arranged them, Ikebana style, in this vase, which used to stand empty on the sideboard in her parent’s hallway. It was three weeks after her mother’s funeral, when there was nothing left to do except remember. Three branches of Bougainvillea, unapologetically cheerful. She had done her best to silence her thoughts, had held each branch and waited until she knew where it should go.

That was twenty years ago. Now she teaches her granddaughter how to be still, holds her young hands between her own creased palms and talks about beauty, and difference, and how everything is connected, even if you can’t always see how straight away. She watches her granddaughter’s eyes stray towards the horse, and knows that she too, imagines sitting astride its back, lifting her face up to the heavens and feeling the earth blur beneath her.

Inspired by Shehani’s answer to the question: What do flowers mean to you? July 7, 2010 at 9:01 am

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