Once in a while one’s garden has a ‘moment’, a brief period of time when everything comes together to create a picture-perfect scene and an exhilarating feeling.
‘Moments’ can be planned, but never guaranteed: nature and serendipity play far too great a part. A garden’s finest hour can be elevated to new levels by a stormy sky, a singing bird, a chance encounter or even an optimistic frame of mind; it can just as easily be trounced by a gale, the wailing of a car alarm, a plague of flying ants or a melancholy mood. A ‘moment’ can be missed altogether, especially during the summer when we are taking our holidays, but most usually because our attentions are diverted elsewhere. And my ‘moment’ may not be your ‘moment’, it’s the coming together of an image, an atmosphere and one’s own disposition to create a fleeting state of pure joy.
Most gardens have a ‘moment’ in spring, often in May. (I often say that if one can’t make a garden look brilliant in May, one has a serious problem.) Then they might peak again in July and once more in autumn, if the weather is just so. But August can be a tricky month and I tend not to expect too much of my garden beyond the start of the month.
Returning to nature and serendipity, the particular ‘moment’ occurring in the Gin & Tonic Garden right now is in large part down to these uncontrollable forces, rather than us. The first half of the year was a lot cooler than usual, which held plants back. Then we got caught up with other tasks and planted our lily bulbs late, towards the end of April. The consequence is that all the lilies in the Jungle Garden flowered together, right in time for our open weekend (another ‘moment’ altogether) and those in the Gin & Tonic Garden have done the same, only 2 weeks later. (It is reliably the case that the same variety of plant grown in both gardens flowers two weeks later in the G&T, despite that garden being warmer and sunnier than the Jungle Garden.) None of this was planned. It just happened that way. The result is pleasing us no end.
Although there are no leading roles in a ‘moment’ – one cannot happen unless all the stars are aligned – lilies are definitely part of the equation in this case. Lilium leichtlinii has come as a big surprise to me with its banana-yellow buds and freckly flowers. I have never grown it before and now I can’t imagine why not. Lilium ‘Beijing Moon’ is exquisite in every way; huge yet delicate, with a fragrance as subtle as a steamroller. On my nightly snail patrols I am bowled over by its powerful and rather sensual scent. (These having been quite small bulbs, they have produced just one bloom each in their first season. In future years they will produce several flowers per bulb, each held proudly on towering stems.)
Last but not least there’s Lilium ‘Purple Marble’, unscented, but perhaps that’s not such a bad thing with so much competition. The flowers are a curious shade, reminding me of a fruit leather. They echo the cerise pink of Salvia involucrata ‘Bethellii’ particularly nicely.
‘Moments’, when they happen, are to be cherished and indulged in. If ever there is a time to be mindful, this is it. It is tempting to take a few snaps, as I have done, and crack on with the next task in hand, or to share the magic on social media. Somehow the latter never quite satisfies. As yet technology won’t allow you to share a feeling, a mood (emojis don’t count), a scent or an atmosphere. Without all the senses stimulated, a ‘moment’ does not translate: by the time you’ve agonised over that, it’s gone. When you sense a ‘moment’ happening, look, listen, breathe and absorb, making an indelible imprint on your memory before it passes. TFG.
Categories: Container gardening, Flowers, lilies, Musings, Our Coastal Garden, Perennials
28 comments On "A Moment In The Gin & Tonic Garden"
Absolutely beautiful Notes taken on plants planned for next year
Excellent! Glad to have piqued your interest with something new Chris.
Absolutely beautiful! ‘Moments’ to be savoured and enjoyed – you are so right!
I, in particular, need to make more of them and stop concerning myself with the next task on the list!
I could almost smell those lilies. They are all quite lovely. Enjoy this while it is happening.
I will … or have. It’s been windy today with a few downpours, so the moment was short-lived. August is always a disappointment weather-wise. Our expectations of it are too high!
True – but that makes the moments all the more special!
Your description of the forces that combine to make a “moment” in the garden is a profound insight. And yes, they surely would be doing the samba.
I’d like to think so. I have some gorgeous dahlias I have been discussing in a podcast today and they’d definitely be doing a tango.
Looks very jungly. Your lilies are fab. And your moment appreciated.
Thanks. Yes, getting to that stage where I can’t move about in it now. Usually happens in September so I might need to get the machete out!!
I just the colorful flowers in your garden.
Glad you love them (hoping that was the missing word!)
I mean I love the colorful flowers….😉
Exquisite! Sadly I am moving to a flat shortly with no outside growing space, but your postings and lovely photographs will make my day when they drop in the mail box.
That must be tough, but there are so many great parks and gardens to visit, where someone else has done all the hard work for you!
I hope the move goes smoothly. Dan
That was just so lovely to read – perhaps you should write a book?
You are the fourth or fifth person to suggest that in the space of a week. Perhaps I should take heed? Any publishers out there? ……..
Thank you for the lovely comment, and perhaps one day I’ll find myself in print.
Always wonderful — but this month’s moment is particularly spectacular. Inspiring…
Thanks very much Derek. Glad you enjoyed it.
Beautiful. I’ve stopped growing lillies because of the little red devils but after reading this I’m going to have to start again next year. I’ve just read your ‘About’ article and your mention of Hannay’s brought back happy memories of many trips there. I haven’t found a nursery to compare locally since.
No, alas. Funnily enough I was just relating to The Beau the joys of Hannay’s. On today’s dog walk we saw a clump of Zauschneria californica which I first saw there, and then I recalled Anthirrinum sempervirens which I discovered on the same occasion.
I am sure you must have tried Special Plants at Cold Ashton? A decent alternative? Dan
YOU are the flowers in the garden
From South Dakota in America, this was a delightful treat in my day!!! I look forward to enjoying more. I absolutely adore your garden combinations and textures. (and writing)
Thank you Bonnie. Lovely to receive your comment and apologies for taking so long to respond. I hope you’ve had a good summer over there in South Dakota? I imagine your summers are hot and your winters are very cold? Dan
The flowers looks so beautiful and attractive.
Thanks for the tip on Beijing Moon. I think I’ll try it.
You always create a a generous, luxurious scene.
Thanks for sharing the beauty.
You are welcome Leslee. ‘Beijing Moon’ is a beauty and the perfume it produces is quite exceptional. You will love it. Dan