In a dream I strolled barefoot in a quiet garden

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In a dream I strolled barefoot in a quiet garden…

Ducking beneath roses, I escaped a glittering gathering behind mullioned windows and wandered alone amongst beds peopled with purple allium. I hailed a laburnum drunk with blossom and traced a hidden path beside a buttercup bank.

In a meadow a blackbird peeped at my intrusion and cows gathered at the fence to say, ‘Nobody is allowed, except our friend the solitary gardener.’

Now he has locked his modest shed and gone. But look around and he is everywhere, in root and leaf and sky. And in his dreams does he still tramp the lawns and greet the trees he tended?

Miranda Lewis 2018

Welcome to 100-word Friday Flash Fiction, hosted each week by the talented writer Rochelle. (Get a sneak preview of here novel in progress here.) Thanks to the appropriately named Nathan Sowers for this week’s photo prompt.

Where else could I go this week, but out into the garden? But not just any garden; this dream garden is based on the real garden tended for the past decade by the Anxious Gardener. You can read his final, wistful farewell to this particular garden on his blog here, and also catch a glimpse of some beautiful photos, including that drunk laburnum.

For more tales from Friday Fictioneers stick your trowel in here.

You can even find me in the garden here on Instagram, if that’s not one click too many.

Thanks!

Happy New Gardening Year

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Happy New Gardening Year

A trip outside the post-Christmas fug to the compost bin reveals green shoots in sodden soil: the promise of snowdrops, the loveliest of flowers. The days lengthen, the world renews itself despite our dulled perception it is otherwise.

To plant a garden is to open oneself to sweet celebration – spring tulips and forget-me-nots, summer lavender and roses – but also disappointment, failures, the need to shrug and carry on.

For whatever, after summer will come the dying days of autumn – pruning, leaf gathering, the fragrant harvest of rot and decay. Until, once more, that long deep sigh of winter.

Miranda Lewis 2017

I’m either very late to Friday Fiction or just in time to wish Friday fiction contributors and all who visit a very happy and productive new year. May your adjectives be apt and your adverbs few. Thanks as ever to our host Rochelle and to Ted Strutz for the photo.

And of course, good gardening. My resolution for 2018 – lots of flowers (always!) but more vegetables too.

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Things My Grandmother Taught Me

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Things My Grandmother Taught Me

Lavender sprouted from my Grandmother’s fingertips and lilac nodded around her backdoor.

‘Let us pray,’ she’d say as she knelt, trowel in hand. ‘Amen, and one for the squirrel,’ was my cue to heave her up. Once we tumbled right over, her stick-thin frame cushioned by my stocky little body.

Today I’ve brought all her favourites – purple crocuses, alliums, tulips. I stick the fork into the rich soil and she raps on the window.

‘Who the heck are you?’ she hollers across the lawn.

The best thing about spring bulbs – you can plant them in hope or despair; they’ll bloom anyway.

M J Lewis 2016

It’s Friday already so I’m late for Friday Fiction. Thanks as ever to our talented host Rochelle and to C. E. Ayr for the beautiful photo. For more prose, purple and otherwise, click here. 

Purple is one of my favourite garden colours, so my brain took me straight out into the garden. But hoping somebody writes, or has written, a story about the creation of Henry Perkin’s purple dye, Mauveine. If nobody’s done so, might have to do it myself. It did create a sensation at the time, not unlike a version of tulip fever.

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Visit this lush natural garden in the heart of Wiltshire

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Visit this Lush Natural Garden in the Heart of Wiltshire

Great-Aunt Mabel: ninety-two, wheelchair-bound, avid armchair gardener, royal pain in the nether regions. And it’s my luck to be pushing her around this blooming garden.

‘Closer, child. Just smell those roses.’

‘You know, I’ve read about this garden.’

Aunt Mabel snorts.

‘Onward! The colour of that lavender!’

Two sturdy brown legs emerge from behind the delphiniums.  He’s not, is he? Yep, just the boots and gardening gloves. Mabel can’t help but stare – filched lavender cutting held aloft between bony forefinger and thumb.

‘You can admire all you like madam, but please don’t pinch what isn’t yours.’

Told you this garden was famous.

M J Lewis©2016

Actually, the famous naked gardener of Abbey House Gardens of Malmesbury in Wiltshire also used to wear a rather fetching tool belt, but that would have pushed me beyond the Friday Fiction 100 words.

And apparently you folks in the US also have a long history of poetry, gardening and nudity, via Walt Whitman.

Don’t have a clip of Walt, but here’s a very British (clothed) interviewer on Country File visiting Abbey House Gardens. Sadly I think it’s clothes-on every day now at Malmesbury and the famous clothes-optional visiting days are no more. Think I’ll just take up naked bathing, in my own bathroom.

Many thanks to our gracious host Rochelle,to John Nixon for the strange photo prompt (which it has to be said has produced some very weird stories, mine included) and to all who visit.

Spring at last?

Spring at last?

Are you suffering from a full-blown case of tulip fever or, like me, just a slight but distracting tulip-induced cold?

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Here in the UK we love to talk about the weather. And at the moment we’re moaning about the fact the mild, damp winter has turned into a cold, showery spring. Well all I can say is, get out in the garden, because this is brilliant tulip weather!

We’ve had enough hours of sunlight and just enough warmth to get them blooming, and now here’s a cold snap to keep them that way for as long as possible, with the odd burst of lucky sunshine between the clouds to help the colours glow. Those rippling breezes also show them off a treat.

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My garden is tiny and every little space is filled with plants. It has now and again contained a weed (daisies, buttercups and clover don’t count as weeds). I think a brave nettle once managed to peep out of the back bed. I learnt a new word whilst watching a gardening program this week – underplanting. My spellchecker might not like it, but I do and the tulips don’t seem to mind either. My tulips are underplanted with foxgloves, cat mint, forget-me-nots, verbascum, valerian…If the daffodils and snowdrops were the orchestral warm-up, the tulips are the prelude to the chaotic symphony that, if all goes to plan, will be summer in my garden.

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So if by now you’re thinking I’m some sort of mad tulip-case, who’d sell her children for the latest variety, I’d like to reassure you that I’m actually quite a relaxed tulip grower. No lifting bulbs for me; no keeping them in the fridge before planting in case the winter isn’t cold enough (as I recently read in a tulip confessional, by the otherwise seemingly sensible Deborah Orr of the Guardian newspaper).

I buy them cheap (the cheap varieties repeat flower more reliably), plant them deep, feed them now and again when in flower and after flowering, and then as each bed or pot looks a bit tired, I just replant that autumn. As an added bonus if a few pop up in ridiculous places, courtesy of the squirrels, or a pot turns out to contain only one or two lonely blooms, those are the very few I pick and enjoy indoors.

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So wrap up well, enjoy the brisk breeze and feast your eyes – it’s tulip season!

Miranda