In the fantasy version of my life I live in a Jacobean farmhouse somewhere, with a lavender and pink rose border lining the path to the front foor, and herbaceous borders the lawns. And somewhere there’s a perfect kitchen garden, full of pretty vegetables and herbs and edible flowers. I’m not much of a gardener, truth to be told tho, so I will probably always keep indulging in this fantasy merely by visiting other people’s gardens…
It’s been a long, dry and warm summer, and the both nature and garden seem tired somehow, the autumn decay setting in. The horse chestnut leaves are turning, since mid-July, weeks earlier than usually; whatever ails them is getting worse. In the botanic garden, the fruit are ripe and flowers past their peak. And everywhere there are insects of every kind; greedy and desperate bees getting drunk on the last of the summer’s nectar, while the soldier beetles are greedy for something else. Late summer, like late winter, has never been my favourite time of the year; certainly not late summer like this, when the air is still warm and sticky but the lushness of the midsummer is gone. I find myself missing the moment when the wind turns – that inexplicable moment when the autumn is suddenly in the air, when the air is still warm but not quite warm enough for short sleeves and the evening light has a white glow about it.
For the second year running, I spent the last day before flying to Finland in the Oxford University Botanic Garden. The weather was finally good, the garden ripe, and the fear of missing out on the flowers at their peak made me abandon sensible things like packing for nearly three weeks abroad, and go out instead. I love the Botanic garden – it’s a bit expensive, and a bit crowded on a nice weekend day, but somehow it always manages to be quiet and calming. And I never feel more English than when walking along the herbaceous borders and sitting on the immaculately tidy lawns, surrounded by the spires of Oxford.
All photos were rescaled using a batch editing software, some sharpness has been lost in that. I used my trusty Pentax with a Tamron 17-50mm lens.
In my fantasies, this is the garden of my cottage somewhere near the seaside.
Actually, these flowers all grown in the Oxford University Botanic Gardens. When I was still a student, I used to go there all the time, especially in the summers, sit somewhere for hours reading, enjoying the relative quiet. My heart bled when last summer they knocked down the Tolkien tree, an ancient black pine under which the writer used to sit, tree so big and so old it couldn’t hold its own weight anymore. One of my favourite Botanic Garden memories though is from the bleak midwinter of my first year as a student in Oxford. On a particularly grey, dull January Sunday morning, I walked around the gardens with a friend; the plants were dead and the flower beds empty, not even the snowdrops blooming yet. There was a fog – not a romantic mist, but the sort of damp, cold fog that the English winter so excels at, and we escaped its clutches to the nearest pub, where we sat by the fire, ordered lunch and watched through the windows how sleet started to fall. A day as perfect as it was opposite to this.
And there were perfect vegetables:
All photos were taken with SMC Pentax-M 1:2 50mm lens.