Focus Posted on April 28, 2010

When something as exciting as this spring weather happens there is always the question: try to photograph it or just revel in it? There is no doubt that one detracts from the other. Either you see through a camera or with all your senses, and mind, and soul.

I’ve been taking pictures with my miraculous new camera, a tiny Cybershot that adjusts itself to any range – even a close-up at two inches – without pressing buttons. (It doesn’t really understand light, but you learn not to give it tricky problems). I’ll be glad to have the photos, automatically dated, as reminders of what was out with what – which is almost everything with everything. Magnolias have overtaken peaches, mid-season Japanese cherries are flowering with the autumn one. Tulips are sharp-elbowing the ‘February’ daffodils.

I only really see the garden, though, when I put my camera in my pocket and stop to contemplate. Scents tie up with flowers when you open all your senses. The chorus of birds reveals its soloists. You see the spent flowers, and the fallen petals, and the buds waiting to open, and the furry bracts shoved aside by the swelling fleshy cup of a magnolia.

The amelanchiers are passing that peak of open starry flowers jumbled in pinky-brown new leaves that only started two days ago. The pear trees are as white as the double-flowered cherries: what a crop we’re going to have this autumn. By my window scarlet ‘Japonica’ and wall flowers and orange tulips are burning away. Spurges are their thrilling yellow-green. Primroses and cowslips are all at it.

Yellow daffodils are the only flowers that refuse to fit in. Next year will I have the willpower to suppress them? With all this white and pink and a hundred shades of green the bulbs that really add are blue ones. Little grape hyacinths are nearly over, but camassias…… that’s what I’ll plant more of.

Hugh’s Gardening Books


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Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book

I wrote my first Pocket Wine Book in 1977, was quite surprised to be asked to revise it in 1978,…

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John Grimshaw’s Garden Diary