Monday, 30 April 2012
What a Grey Day!
After worrying weeks of dryness, empty water-butts, threatened hosepipe bans, wilting plants and general anxiety the rains came.
The rains came as we splashed our way to the Royal Horticultural Society's flagship gardens at 'Wisley', in Surrey, and they continued throughout the day as we travelled over racing rivers, the Thames, the Avon, the Severn, and down motorways made opaque in the spray.
The rains gurgled and gargled and dripped on these beautiful gardens, and the plants drank deeply and gratefully while their admirers sat beside the windows in the several restaurants and cafeterias, drinking coffee and proclaiming excitedly at a possible sense of lightness in the dark grey swirling sky.
So I went looking for grey to complement the day, and was captivated by the colour and structure of these wonderful plants.
It was magical in the great glass house, where people in their sodden rain-wear steamed gently with the plants.
Outside, more greyness in the crevice garden, created in vertical slices of stone and grit, where alpines can feel so thoroughly at home. The rain drains almost straight through, as on a mountain side, and the plants colonise cracks and crevices.
I love the greyness, the range of colour embedded in something that apparently has so little, but for those who like a bit, or even a lot of brightness there was the wonderful display from the Orchid Society of Great Britain
Wisley, like the other very special gardens of the RHS, the National Trust, and the countless smaller private gardens open to the public are places for families and fanatics alike. Places where there is a tremendous wealth of specialised knowledge, extreme erudition and very good scones.
There are people with large, expensive-looking cameras and large expensive looking pushchairs.There are people with magnifying glasses and classification books full of Latin terminology, and there are small children playing hide and seek between the palms.
Then there are people like me, looking at grey things, and people exclaiming with joy over a small brownish lump which happens to be a very rare orchid.
A wonderful place on a grey day.