Around Cothay the land is still secret, for nowhere can you see the old house, save when you enter the Avenue of Limes and come upon the Gate House reflected in the old pool. In early medieval times, the rent for the land was a pair of silver spoons and a rose, payable at Christmas and on the Feast of St John the Baptist, which falls on Mid Summer’s Day.
Mother says she finds peace in her soul, nowhere else on earth, save in her home; as the spirits pass her in the house, the air around stirs with their passing, for Cothay is haunted by the past.
October as the seasons turn, the house and garden are shut, and life revolves around putting the garden to bed. The tall lavender hedge Hidcote giant, which borders the path from the Gate House to the front door, is nearly six feet tall. Clipping the tall spires of faded lavender takes all the morning. This year Dearest Mother couldn’t resist a mini battery hedge cutter and the job was done in half an hour. All the faded stems were gathered and stored to put on the Great Hall fire, which when lit, the scent of lavender mingles with the wood smoke as it is drawn up the great chimney, the smoke carrying our prayers to heaven.
The garden still holds some special sights. A plant you seldom see, the tall Eryngium pandanifolieum, the name given by Theophrastus to Eryngium, a genus of over one hundred species of heracious plants. Eryngium pandanifolieum can grow up to fifteen feet in late summer. It has sharp basal sword-shaped lime green leaves and thistle-like flowers. It does well here, although its natural habitat is South America, where it grows in marshes and wet fields, and is hardy to -10oC. A truly amazing sight.
Another plant of the week Verbena bonariensis, again from South America, where it grows in wet fields, yet it seems to grow anywhere in English gardens. A short-lived perennial which seeds about at will, it’s three-feet tall, the stems have dark purple flowers, bending as the wind whispers through it. Easy to grow and propagate from cuttings and seed. Here we grow it in the Inner Court in the gravel, where it looks lovely towering over its short cousin Verbena rigida, a lovely combination which flowers until the frosts arrive.
We don’t have much help in the garden from our giant cat Moses, who lolls about, he is rather supercilious and doesn’t like me. He is a Main Coon, from America’s east coast, where he was bred to catch rats on the waterfront. Yesterday he got shut in the greenhouse overnight and he left a horrid smell!
Mother says not to be jealous, as I am her precious jewel and her friend and companion.