I’ve been an avid reader, I confess, of the new anthology of my (Trad’s) own words to be published as Sitting in the Shade on April Fool’s Day. I happened to open it at the entry for our daughter Lucy’s Wedding in May 2010, which I wrote in a state of high excitement – and largely in Latin. It was an early summer day when the garden was almost over-performing. I had to list all the flowers, and immediately found myself knee-deep in Latin names. It makes for a page so peppered with italics (the correct procedure for botanical Latin) that I was going to leave it out, thinking it would put bookshop browsers off buying. ‘No’, said my sagacious editor, ‘keep it in; it’s a lovely wedding celebration’.
A Te Deum it isn’t, but how to adequately express the identities of a score of flowers without saying their names? And insofar as they even have English names a list of spurge, baby’s breath, ladies’ mantle, larkspur and geraniums hardly conjures up the variety and brilliance of the garden that day.
The sun was so hot we had to find shade under the apple trees that were just spreading their leaves, filtering the sunlight on the tables, the ice-buckets and glasses in the manner of a Renoir or a Seurat. Then a wind got up and the tent where we were having lunch half-collapsed. In any language, Dies laetificans.