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Sunday, 8 September 2013

Mint and Dahlias.

 It's the time for dahlias now. I grow mine where once my tiny veg garden was and they valiantly push their way up through the four different varieties of mint that still hide their roots down beneath the soil.
Apple mint, ginger mint, eau de cologne mint and that common scruffy looking mint. All heralding the arrival of the Mint Juleps at cocktail hour.
When you come across the dahlias it's like discovering Mexico in your garden.(which is where most dahlias come from via The National Collection of Dahlias, Parkers or Peter Nyssens Wholesale Catalogues.} "Ariba!" They all pronounce as they flash open their glorious petals. They can look out of place in the middle of the English countryside but dahlias are for picking and they do look fantastic in vases.
Dahlia Dark Spirit
 I used to hate dahlias. My sister and I used to shoot the buds off them with our father's air rifle. I feel bad about that now. But then in those days they didn't seem to come in these lovely dark colours - only spiky yellow and red it seemed.
Chat Noir

Nuit d'ete

Rip city

This is a lovely red though - Babylon Red
 I was pleased to see at least two hedgehogs up here this week. The first one was in the polytunnel area which is great news, helping the ducks consume all those slugs, and I nearly stepped on him as I went to put them away late one night. The other was running along the road. They have a real turn of speed - almost as fast as Beezle who was surprised when he stuck his nose in one. Still as Beezle and Socrates would say - "The unexamined Life is not worth living."
There has been a dearth of hedgehogs recently, I don't want them to go the same way as the water vole. They are such charming creatures and should give no rise to being culled by the local farmers. Oh those poor badgers. Hedgehogs are surprisingly very loud when it comes to sex. One night I thought a drunk had fallen into our herbaceous border and was rolling around uttering obscenities, but on closer inspection, it was a couple of mating hedgehogs. I suppose it's all those spines that cause the expletives.


I was looking for the Seamus Heaney poem he wrote about mint and found to my surprise when I opened the book to see his signature. The book must have once belonged to someone else. I've never been one for autographs or having books signed by people but because of his recent death it touched me to think his hand had held the pen that wrote on that page. As he says in his poem Digging - about his father and grandfather digging with spades

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests
I'll dig with it.


Mint


It looked like a clump of small dusty nettles
Growing wild at the gable of the house
Beyond where we dumped our refuse and old bottles:
Unverdant ever, almost beneath notice.

But, to be fair, it also spelled promise
And newness in the back yard of our life
As if something callow yet tenacious
Sauntered in green alleys and grew rife.

The snip of scissor blades, the light of Sunday
Mornings when the mint was cut and loved:
My last things will be first things slipping from me.
Yet let all things go free that have survived.

Let the smells of mint go heady and defenceless
Like inmates liberated in that yard.
Like the disregarded ones we turned against
Because we'd failed them by our disregard.


Seamus Heaney

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