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Ray Doyle’s Cottage Garden Diary

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'Ray Doyle’s Cottage Garden Diary'

Early Summer Recap, 2021

I don’t do so much now, of course, the rheumatism stops a lot of it. The veg has all gone. It was getting to be a pain in the arse, to be honest. You have to start such a lot of it in February when it’s cold and pissing down with rain and Aldi’s is so bloody cheap that when you’re getting filthy and soaked and frozen rigid, you wonder why you’re bothering. Last year finally finished me off for vegetables what with the damn pandemic. I couldn’t get decent seed potatoes for love nor money and the shed and the freezer are stuffed with more food than I’ll ever eat, so I decided to concentrate solely on the flowers. Something to cheery the place up a bit. I’ve always had a secret love for flowers, though Bodie used to laugh at them. For him, they were a quick way into a young lady’s knickers if memory serves, though I do remember how he baulked at the price of them.

I grow the roses and lavender, of course, always have and always will. I first started planting them with respect for Cowley. His musings for an idyllic island were pretty, but I soon realised that the beauty of the palest rose and the deepest blue lavender represented us all, the dark and the light in the fight that we fought.

I grow pansies for Benny. Their funny faces remind me of him, always quick with a smirk, a laugh and a wink, a man that always caused me to smile. I grow nasturtium for Murph. Its red and orange hues remind me of his flashes of auburn hair. It’s a hardy flower, will grow in any old situation it lands itself in and still shine, much like Murphy always did. I grow Rudbeckia for Susie. Perhaps ‘Black Eyed Susan’ is a harsh way to describe her, but it’s a tough plant and she was a hell of a tough lady.

The violets are finished now. They pop up all over the place so many would call them weeds, but I let them grow as they make me think of Stuart and how he often popped up when you least expected him, before disappearing into oblivion for another year. I grow nicotiana in remembrance of dear old Anson. Lung cancer finally did for him, the daft git.

Now the summer is at last upon us, the hibiscus pots are finally out of the greenhouse. They’re looking a bit ropey at the moment, but they’ll be flowering their heads off come August. Jax grows the same variety in his garden in Havana, where of course, he has no need of a greenhouse.

It’s not exactly Kew Gardens, of course, my little patch of memories. It’s just a bittersweet tribute to the brave souls I’ve lost through time and through distance, but it’s pretty enough and it brings me pleasure.

There’s one little bit that stays bare in the summer and that’s where the snowdrops are sleeping. Come January when the land’s turned to ice and my summer blooms mere memories, those hardy little buggers poke their heads through the soil and take on the world. They remind me of Bodie. Pale as death and strong as a horse, they’re my failsafe’s. They always appear at just the right moment and they never ever let me down. Bodie would probably laugh if he could hear my thoughts. I must admit, I am rambling on, dear diary, but that’s what a bottle of sherry in the potting shed can do for a man!

I’d better go in. A day full of sun’s no good at my age. Hopefully, Bodie’s started on tea, God love him. Yeah, a chicken from Aldi’s, Bisto's gravy and the last of my runner beans, care of the deep freeze. Followed hopefully, by a bottle of red and some gentle hardening-off of our own...

Until next time x