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  • Writer's pictureAnne Jennings

Moments to Remember

Nothing is permanently perfect. But there are perfect moments and the will to choose what will bring about more perfect moments

Mary Balogh, Simply Perfect

Perfect moments vary in duration, magnitude, geography, in fact in every way bar the commonality of transience. These are instances when everything seems perfect, balanced and in harmony, when you want to hold onto until the last possible fraction of time to that ultimate sense of wellbeing, gratitude and - maybe - goodwill to all men.

These moments appear in different guises. I still clearly remember an evening 27 years ago when my then baby daughter fell into the deepest slumber lying on my chest while I read in the peace of an otherwise empty house – tranquil contentment. Again, in a performance of Mozart’s Requiem in St Albans Abbey when our put-together-choir, 200 strong managed a perfect (to us) rendition of Lacrimosa – crescendos, diminuendos followed by a spine tingling moment of quiet conculsion. Yet again an early evening with young children, friends, good conversation, food and wine around an outdoor dining table enjoying a balmy interlude – looking around and simply being grateful for loved ones.

Spring is a bit of an extended moment in horticulture when the garden is literally bursting with life, full fat buds opening daily, the freshest of greens and brightest of yellows clothing the landscape, all enriched by the knowledge that more is to come. It is the most hopeful of seasons that, in good weather years, can imbue simple optimism and basic happiness. This year gratitude is in abundance as we live through lockdown, and those with gardens and access to parks or local green space can grasp their individual moments of freedom and release.

Within the spring season there are moments within moments. A particular time of day when sunlight bleeds through the not-yet-dense foliage of trees, scattering the ground with random, illuminated pattern. Look a few minutes later and the decoration has disappeared, changed or diminished. Trying to catch these moments as images is far beyond my skills as an iPhone photographer – call in the experts!

Each year I have a recurring garden moment when the scene from our first floor deck is enriched by a tripartite combination of wisteria, May blossom and Rosa banksia ‘Lutea’. It is a stunning union, and when blossom and leaves are bathed in gentle morning sun the overall effect is enhanced and transformed into one of those hold onto moments.

This season the Banksian rose has much reduced flowering wood following the serious prune last year – it needs to be managed in the future to avoid the suffocating cover that previously blanketed the hawthorn. But if you can only have one climbing rose, make it this one (or should that be Ghislaine de Feligonde, more about which in a later Blog. Ah well, two climbing roses then.)

Back to the Banksian – this is the earliest flowering rose of the gentlest butter yellow. Its small, double rosette-like flowers cluster around non-spiny wood, surrounded by delicate evergreen foliage. Perfection.

As with many plants, there is a clue to this rose’s heritage in its name which relates to a plant hunting expedition to China in 1807, commissioned by the great botanical adventurer Sir Joseph Banks. Rosa banksia, named in honour of Sir Joseph’s wife, was introduced to Britain as a species after the trip, followed in 1824 by this exquisite form ‘Lutea’.

Returning to the idea of moments, it’s almost impossible to imagine the excitement of early horticultural explorers when they first spotted a plant previously unknown in Britain and never seen before by a native of these shores. So many of our most common garden plants were introduced during this wave of international exploration, and it's worth taking one of those precious moments to nod thanks to those who blessed our gardens with such riches.

My moments today were inspired as always in Lockdown April by the garden:

- noticing that a recently sown bean had popped its head through the ground, and a chard seedling is starting to develop a scarlet stem, even in its micro stage.

- seeing dormant leaf buds starting to swell on a lanky Hydrangea that had up until a month ago been in the darkest shade, sulking in adolescent gangliness until it could see the light and fatten out a bit (reminding me of young teenage boys who are will-o’-the-wisp thin but growing in height every day, so getting a pair of trousers to fit is impossible!)

- watching the sometimes dumb and occasionally very smart Springador, Fidel, bounding around like a crazed creature snapping flies and midges from the air.

All these moments are inconsequential in themselves but create diversions of happiness that lift our spirits and instil a sense of optimism, even for the shortest time.

Grab a moment for yourself today.

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