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China Girl Blog 5th July 2018

Over generations, the passage of time has been kind to Cothay, gently washing away the sharp edges. The hand of man has fitted into the gentle Somerset landscape, creating form, texture and above all, structure. Time drifts slowly by on the warm summer air, the garden is a melody of colour.

This week it seems, has been made up of endlessly watering and filling in gaps in the border as the sun beats relentlessly down, hastening the fading of the flowers. The grass is browning in the shimmering sun.

Mother had a visitor for Bed & Breakfast who is descended from the Every’s, who owned Cothay for 200 years. He explained that Florence Nightingale was also directly descended from John Every, who lived at Cothay in the 17th century. What a small world we live in!

Ma took a day off when her Number One Son Jamie and his wife Jo came to see the gardens with two friends. We gave them a delicious salad in the Tearoom.

Every plant seems to be flowering at once, brought on by the unusual heat. It is hard to pick out our Flower of the Moment, perhaps the annual sweet peas, in all their lovely colours, which scramble and climb throughout the garden.

In a large pot in the inner court, the enigmatic perennial foxglove from the Canary Islands; the colour of burnt sienna, Digitalis canariensis, from the latin digitus meaning fingers. Also in the court in a pot, the dark pink shrub Cantua buxifolia from South America, growing in Peru, the Andes, Bolivia and Chile. Hardy in sheltered spots, but best kept in cool greenhouse in winter. The amusing long tubular flowers l feel sure must be pollinated by a humming bird moth; it has been in flower for three months.

Suddenly on Sunday morning, the sky darkened and to our amazement after more than a month, the rain came down as if from heaven, like star dust. The ground was so hard and parched, it made little difference, but it felt good. No more rain is forecast for July, Ma says she is glad she doesn’t live in Africa or India as the temperature soared to 30oC and we struggle to keep the garden green and beautiful, as in the hymn Jerusalem, “Our green and pleasant land”

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