There is a dreamy quality about the first days of September. Memory, like light and shade, flits through the passing days of summer. A timeless charm settles on the old garden as plants prepare for the seasons end – but still there are plants to brighten these days. The Aconitums, the name given by Theophrastus for poisonous plants, all contain a poisonous alkaloid, dangerous to humans and animals. A genus of three hundred species of hardy perennials native to Europe, Asia and North America. The common name Monkshood refers to the shape of the flowers with their hoods; a very useful plant for shade. Growing at Cothay on the north side is the unusual spectacular climbing blue Aconitum hemsleyanum from China, which reaches ten feet. We grow it together with the Viticella clematis purpurea plena elegans, a glorious double, with deep wine-coloured flowers. Together, they twist and climb, a lovely sight for this time of the fading year.
Dearest Mother’s grandchildren Harry and Violet and their mother Arabella have dammed the river, making a deep pool to swim in. I was unable to help with this task, but I love paddling in the shallow water, away from their huge black dog who frightens me; he told me I was of no account, being Chinese. Coming from a mongrel of mixed race, I thought this rather rude!