music and flowers

The mini marathon of singing finished yesterday with twenty of us singing for the Devonshires’ double christening up at Chatsworth House.  This involved a Friday night rehearsal in Matlock and a pre-service run through squashed into the little gallery above the amazing Baroque chapel. Everything was dark as Chatsworth is now wrapped up like a large plastic parcel for cleaning so all the shutters are shut inside.  With the portable organ somehow installed, Roger Bristow played his usual best, and we launched into Parry’s “I was glad”, Jesu Joy of Man’s desiring, the Karl Jenkins Benedictus, and gave them “For unto us a child is born” as an anthem in the middle. Bit of a stretch with only three second sops!

But the babies were delightful, all squdgy and dressed in Victorian christening dresses which in the case of little Reginald was another bit of a stretch.  He had a hilarious bonnet on the wrong way round until I adjusted it over a canape later. Apparantly it had been Nancy Mitford’s once upon a time. The other baby called James will one day be the next-but-one Duke of Devonshire I suppose, if they still have Dukes by the time he grows up, and if they still have a men only policy, as he has a two year old sister called Maud.

 David took the service with his normal friendly and laid back approach including a few jokes, and the service was followed by a Mad Hatters’ teaparty for the 140 guests, with excellent grub.  (David once confided that he imagines the babies at christenings are puppies which explains his easy confidence in picking them up.)  I made it into the tea  as David’s other half, and was certainly ready for a drink after all those high notes, and runs.  It was a shame there was no room for the choir and organist.

My croaky voice can take a break now for a few weeks – the service this afternoon in Church was for all the scouts in the district, mainly cubs and beavers these days, but “He’s got the whole world in his arms” doesn’t tax the vocal chords too much.

Over the last few days the warm weather has returned and we have had several shimmering early mornings, awash with birdsong and the cherry trees in the churchyard bursting out into cascades of pale white and pink.  I was up soon after six yesterday, and watered the allotment, not a job for sissies as it involves hauling 50yards of hosepipe into the car, and unloading it down in the yard, untangling it, pulling it up the steps and across the allotment before going back to the tap to turn on the water.  But everything planted seemed immensely grateful. Having filled the three waterbutts I don’t think I’ll have to do all that again soon.

The Bunyard Exhibition Broad beans are now looking vigorous and about four inches tall. I planted out more spring seeds, perpetual spinach which I have just discovered is actually globeless beetroot by another name, ordinary spinach, and carrots.  They are in rows next to the parsnip/radish combinations. I know rows are a wasteful use of land in a way, but I do like howing between them, and have a peasant’s liking for the neat rows of contrasting veggies. First asparagus shoot up this morning, so we’ll soon be eating them.

The rescued daffodils I was given by Julia and only planted in March have caught up amazingly and are in bloom. They show the remarkable resilience of plants, whose urge is to grow and flower, despite all discouragement, cruelty, neglect or pure ignorance! The hyacinths I planted in the early autumn have been blooming too, in just the massed blocks I wanted, and the tulip/ forgetmenot combinations are emerging just behind them.  In the garden the mahonia blossoms of bright yellow are next to the scarlet japonica, – it seems everything has woken up and is singing out to the bees and birds, “Notice me, come to me.” 

 If only my older bones and muscles can keep up with this Spring. Where does the enthusiasm of youth go to?  The three Jacob’s ewes with their lambs in the fenced off part of the churchyard illustrate this. The lambs jump and bounce with pure happiness, while their mothers move in a stately fashion round the old graves, munching away but never playing.

Having brought up about seven trays of flowers from seeds, I succumbed and ordered geraniums, and fuchsias from Plants Direct in Jersey, as all mine died in the winter frost. The first parcel, 28 giant fuchsias, arrived yesterday and they look very well grown and strong. A nip out of the central shoot had caused them all to branch out well at about three inches tall.  I know I should do this to my sweetpeas seedlings, but somehow I can’t bring myself to do it, isn’t that ridiculous?  It feels like torturing a baby. I shall be hearing tomatoes scream next.

Don’t ask about the mice in the greenhouse.  One correspondent has suggested putting in a cat, but I have resorted to something even more horrible.  I daren’t tell you yet, but will see if the mice keep coming. In the house we have invested in those ultra sonic shriek deterrants. If I can get the socket in the greenhouse to work that might be a way of stopping future invasions. Meanwhile, be grateful you are not a mouse in mrsgarnettsgarden!   

PS chicks have hatched under the first silkie to sit. – can’t tell how many yet, as she is too ferocious to lift.  Definite smell of fox outside our gate into the park this morning. Hmm.

About mrsgarnettsgarden

After a life in International Development where I have seen many resililent women farmers bring abundance out of almost nothing, I'm now more often at home in Derbyshire with my husband David, a retired Archdeacon who runs the churches on the Chatsworth estate. Our garden and my allotment are the setting for a little diary of plants and pottering, aided and abetted by our dogs, Spaniel jess, and Collie, Pip. David is a hen fanatic so the chicken runs encroach ever nearer the house. I work freelance as an assessor for Comic Relief International grants, and also run a little not for profit agency to help African women get going in business, called "Lasting Solutions."
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