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September 29th 2009

iris1.jpg (45450 bytes)

    The air is cleaner.  It comes with a breeze that reddens the cheeks and it comes with a blue sky that gives fall blooming iris what I think of as unwarranted enthusiasm. 

    In the perennial border Autumn blooms are amongst the banes of a jobbing gardener's existence.  The primary culprit is the Aster.  Not those Asters that politely occur at a reputable time of year, rather the Asters that pretend to be virulent weeds until the end of August, when suddenly they pounce and by this time in September are a mass of white or red or mauve or bluish.  

   Certainly there are errors made.  Cats, dogs, squirrels can be blamed.  But when your employer is elderly and knowledgeable, and you are there weeding in her garden only because your employer is no longer mobile, the fault for Asters that go missing in the Autumn are placed squarely upon your shoulders.

 

    

    Sometimes a jobbing gardener pretends to be something that he might not be.  Quickly he learns that his own ignorance is his best friend so long as it is also accompanied by hard work and obvious willingness.  Then when errors are made, other more experienced gardeners can find joy in dispensing wisdom.  Which they do with a fluency and with a smile, and with irritating innuendo.  But the fall bloom of Asters may sometimes be greater than a final gasp from a perennial border.  And if these Asters then go missing, consequences follow.

   I had helped an anxious son move my employer's bed to the downstairs drawing room.  I had taken my boots off to reveal holes in my socks so carpets might not get muddy.  The bed frame was an incredibly heavy ornamental and the mattress probably contained horsehair.  In the process we had damaged a picture frame and a ceiling light fixture.   And we had done this, I found out later, so when my employer returned from the hospital she could see the Aster bloom in what might well have been her own final farewell before joining numberless generations.

   My eagerness and ignorance and hard work were of no account.  My mournful apology was not accepted.  These Asters had come from a parent garden some fifty years previously.  

    Never have I been paid with such reluctance.  And often since, I have thought that when I die I would like to watch bees upon Lavender bloom.

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tim candler

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