Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Up to my knees in sewage

Just spent the day in wellington boots trying to unblock the drains. We have a septic tank and the pipe leading to the soakaway, which runs across the drive, has somehow become blocked. After attempts to run a hosepipe through it from the manhole (why don't I have man to do this?) failed, I was forced to start digging up the lawn to locate the pipe. Several men stopped to ask me what I was doing - at a safe, odour free, distance - but I didn't get any offers of help. Anyway, I've cured the puddle in the drive, but now have a garden pond (organic of course!) full of brown water. Tomorrow I will have to have another go at it. I bet Antonia Fraser never has to do this! Consoled myself with the thought that I'm off to Italy for the weekend at Peralta (peraltatuscany.com) for an exhibition in memory of Fiore de Henriquez. Neil is putting all his sculpture out in the olive groves on plinths and I'm really looking forward to seeing it in this wild setting. Also looking forward to sunshine, unlimited prosecco and fresh air with a rather more attractive aroma!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Where are the bees?

It's taken me a while to notice, but there are hardly any bees in my garden this year. I've seen only two. This is very strange, since the mill is on a river bank, surrounded by uncultivated river meadows with swathes of wild flowers, and my garden is organic - I don't use any pesticides or herbicides. The blossom from the apple trees and the damsons has already dropped, but at the moment, both the river bank and the garden are full of flowers - dame's violet, buttercups, daisies, lupins, welsh poppies, acquilegia, cranesbill, as well as roses. I have a thing about old roses, so I grow wild tangles of Madame Albert Carriere, Rambling Rector, Paul's Himalayan Musk, Ghislaine de Felisande, Parkdirektor Riggers, Stanwell Perpetual, Dublin Bay, as well as the Apothecary's rose, the Queen of Denmark and half a dozen others. The lack of form drives Neil mad! There's a lovely Chinese wild rose with deep pink cups containing big tufts of yellow stamens loaded with pollen. In previous years the bees have descended on it in buzzing swarms, rolling ecstatically among the petals as if getting high on illegal substances. This year, miserably, the bush is silent.

Back in the sixties, there was a book by Rachel Carson called The Silent Spring. Everyone was very sceptical about it back then. But perhaps she was right?

Ps I've got a book blog if anyone's interested - you can find it if you click on 'my complete profile'. If anyone ever reads it - I'd love some suggestions on what to read next!