Handel’s haunting ode to a tree and its shade is this week’s theme. Here in London we are blessed with trees some might think excessive, in the front garden and the back, and are rejoicing in their shade. A great lanky cherry tree in the street and a magnolia soulangeana pushing out shoots of over a metre shade the south of the house, while our sycamore, the size of a Hyde Park plane, and our neighbour’s walnut, limes and apple overshadow the north. I have never appreciated them so much as in the past ten days – and by all accounts the next ten days as well.
We’ve all remarked on what a year it is for roses; the best I remember. But all plants like heat, it seems, given well-grounded roots. The front garden magnolia has not only grown prodigiously; it is in flower again at the beginning of July. Geraniums, campanulas and phlox are flowering fit to bust, Clematis viticella and Hydrangea seemanii are excelling themselves; every plant in the garden has got the idea. I noticed six weeks ago that the Indian horse chestnuts along Kensington Road were stiff with their white candles, then in June that every lime tree was gilded all over with flowers, and the scent in the park is enough to make you hold your nose. Especially the regrettable smell of the sweet chestnuts.
Thank goodness the nights have been relatively cool so far. By opening front and back windows we achieve a through draught, which by three in the morning means we even need a blanket. The full moon has been flooding the balcony and the room with spectral light, and lighting the street so I can see the sleeping houses opposite through the trees, rustling gently in the breeze. It is the only movement, and for most of the time the only sound. Three months ago the balcony was white with snow.