I often feel a sense of poignancy when I read the lines carved in ancient lettering on a round stone set in a path, written over a hundred years ago in Russia by the Tzarina to a friend on a postcard. “Friendship outstays the hurrying flight of years and aye abides through laughter and through tears”
I helped Dearest Mother on Friday, when she was cooking Coq-au-vin for a lunch party. She told me I could lick out the pan if I didn’t pester constantly for a taste. Amongst the guests was Mother;s guru Martyn Rix, the garden writer and botanist. Mother has been on botanical exhibitions with him to China, Tibet and Africa. Dearest dragged him round the garden in the rain with a list of all her gardening problems, all of which of course he answered. Keen gardeners should not be without his series of books on plants. I don’t think he cares much for pekes as I’m told my predecessor Darling Boy chased his cat down the road and it never returned; he has never forgotten the episode, although it happened a decade ago.
Dodging the rain, frosts and wind, the Avenue of the Unicorn has had its annual hair-cut. In the avenue there are forty Robinia pseudoacacia Umbraculifera, grown as standard trees, high grafted at nine feet. Lovely in the summer when their shadows cast a magical light in the sun. They are underplanted in spring with the beautiful white lily-flowered tulip White Trumpeter. As they fade, the cat mint Six Hills Giant cover their passing. One day Mother Dearest was taking a group of Americans through the garden. The leader constantly asked where they were, to which Dearest replied in a rash moment “we are now in the Avenue of the Unicorn, so called in medieval times the chatelaine would exercise her tame unicorn here”. “Did you hear that girls?” the leader said. “We were always told unicorns were mythical animals”. Then a small voice from the group said “Sure they are mythical, but if you’re a virgin you can always see them”. That evening, Dearest opened an encyclopaedia and sure enough, it read that only maidens could capture unicorns!
The cold east wind is whistling around the house, Dearest and I curl up together; I dreamed that life was beauty, I woke and found that life was duty.