Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lilies in the rain

One unblocks the gutter by poking a stick into the 2 inch opening through which the rain from three rooves must drain. Look at all this beautiful water. Into the sea.

There are a lot of drops here, so forgive the sense of redundancy. It has been rainy and cloudy forever. Still: yesterday's promised floods did not materialize.

I was looking forward to the crashes of thunder and bright-lit sky through the skylight over my bed last night. Not a peep.

These buds are Orienpets - crosses of Trumpet or Aurelian hybrids with Oriental lilies.

The sun came out for 3 minutes just now. Tonight we have 30mph winds.

A wasp is buzzing the terrace. No sign of bees.

"A necklace of raindrops"...that is the story I was trying to remember recently. A photograph on Bonbon Oiseau's blog brought to mind the childhood story I loved and had forgotten till the moment of looking at the waterdrops on a blade of grass. Written by Ted Hughes or Joan Aiken. The latter, I suspect. Hang on a second for google: yes! Here is the book I had, same cover. It's so moving to see it again, fuzzy as it is. I wonder what happened to mine? I see Amazon and others have a subsequent edition. Mine seems to have been published in 1968, yikes. I would have said 70's. But I know nothing about her, other than she wrote beautifully.

I bought two old books at a newish used book store on Thursday. I was lured by two large books of old roses and their prints displayed in the temporarily sunny window...but at $50 each, and rather bent, they were beyond what I should have been buying. So I walked out with a first edition The Garden Decorative, by F.M. Wells, published in 1903. Its first owner, H. M. Carter, signed it, and dated it, 1908. Its second owner was Senga Mortimer, no date. Several of the other garden books arranged in the window had been hers, too. I bought the little green, cloth-bound book for $7. It is printed on good, stiff paper.

"Just as the spirit of the nouveau art is making its presence felt in the interior of our houses, so is the trend of modern feeling working in our gardens..."

I also bought, for $5, a larger, but also first edition, green cloth-bound and stiff-papered The Little Garden for Little Money by Kate L. Brewster, published in 1924. Once Senga Mortimer's, too.

Mrs Brewster starts, " Nice people like gardens, or liking gardens makes people nice."

I used to think this true, but have subsquently met the exceptions to this rule. Still, I think that gardening makes people nicer than they would have been otherwise.

I also found some 1954, 11th printing, Arden Shakespeare editions - Lear, Macbeth, Richard ii, Merchant - and bought all four, for $5 each. My huge Shakespeare anthology walked out of my house some years ago. Blue cloth hardcovers again, and more of that nice, stiff, ivory paper. I asked the grumpy owner, or at any rate the person selling the books, if I might leave my number in case any more came in, and he snapped at me to check back instead, after tossing my plastic money card back at me. OK...

The solid grey cloud blanket is breaking into feathers and the sun shines intermittently.

And I must get back to drawing a garden.


  1. I would add to Mrs Brewster's theory that "Nice gardens like people." :-)

  2. Stunning photographs! Interesting that you say rooves...we say roofs. Remember that saying about the USA and Britain being two nations divided by a common language?

    And we waste rainwater just like you do Over There; shocking really. But poking a drain with a stick is a teeny bit satisfying....

  3. Beence...yes. Or some people.

    Rachel...butbutbut, I'm sure I was taught rooves at school. In South Africa, which took the English lead.

  4. I seem to recall "hooves galloping across rooves." But I've always taken the easy way out - I say rooftops!

  5. Hoe is dat dan dae alle eienaars van secondhand book shops so grumpy is? As dit my plek was sou ek die hele dag gesmile het tussen al die ou boeke met hulle mooi en duursame covers gedruk op papier wat dekades lank nog net so mooi gebly het. Ek kan ook vir ure in sulke shoppies rondhang en voel skatryk as ek 'n paar sulke ou boeke kan koop waarin 'n mens vergange se tyd kan ruik.
    Ek geniet jou blog elke dag en loop deur jou oë deur New York se strate!

  6. Dinahmow - Eengleesh. No wonder Estorbo has trouble.

    Mariana - baie dankie vir die kommentaar. Ek geniet dit so baie om Afrikaans hier te sien, and is bly as ek op 'n mate 'n tour operator kan wees. Duidelik is "my" New York nie Times Square nie! En ja, my man het ook so gedink...grumpy tweedehandseboekhandelaars. Is dit regtig net een woord?

  7. Well, you got me going there - I haven't heard anybody, ever, say rooves, but was quite prepared to be wrong (actually, that's a fib)so I looked it up. I liked WikiAnswers succinctness best: "The plural of roof is roofs or rooves. The latter is an older form of the word and rarely used these days." But there's a nice little fight going on here: English, a joy for ever.....

  8. I've always been a fan of droplets when photographing plants and flowers. Early morning dew and right after a quick rainstorm...I'm there. I took some pictures yesterday in fact, will have to load and show them to you. Love your blog. After growing up in a rural area, and then moving to an apartment with NO outdoor space it is great to finally be in a house with a yard !

  9. I'm betting that bookstore owner doesn't like gardens... or, perhaps, gardens don't like him.

    Just stumbled onto your blog this afternoon and have spent far too much working time discovering your story. Worth it though. I'm so happy for you both that July is fast approaching. May the joint terrace be just as rewarding.


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