Monday, 13 May 2013

Dogs Delight 1 Prison garden

His garden is my prison, dense with laurel and rhododendrons and enclosed by high brick walls.  The magenta vine is smothering the pergola at the end of the new path, so sometimes when I am alone I take out the secateurs and tear at the long tendrils which are thrashing in the wind.  I like doing this because I can imagine I am in control, conjuring up a different garden, blowsy with pale roses and wildflowers, where I will be safe.
David Austin Roses
Two children are peering over the wall gazing at our ‘magic island,’ elbows straining to hold them up because the walls are so high.  They are different to our children.  Beautiful, like fairies.  I follow their gaze to the palm trees which are reflected in the ruffled water of the swimming pool, fronds waving wildly in the October gusts.  The water laps and slaps the concrete edge, spilling out floating yellow leaves from the willows.  The sun loungers are still outside, flanked by tubs of vermilion geraniums and as the wind scrapes a lounger along the terrace I decide I will leave the geraniums outside tonight.  Perhaps then a frost will blast them and all that searing colour will drain away.

The boy and girl scramble down, slim and dark and lissom, laughing and shouting something, not realising I can see them from behind this vine.  The secateurs are open in my hand as I examine the garden in its brash luxury.  The stiff roses, fluorescent and shocking pink, thankfully almost over.  The oversized marble angel with the bird tray in its supplicating hands and heavenward gaze.  The explosion of maples.

Richard chose those maples deliberately for their colour and vigour.  The acid yellow leaves make a Hollywood autumn, as he always says; the blood-crimson ones are unforgivable, a rash.  I blot them out and imagine another garden, in green and white and pastel: my country garden with beech and box and foxgloves where the dark-haired children are chasing each other through the trees and down the paths.  Clumps of native daffodils grow instead of those beasts with orange trumpets, stirring even now beneath the soil to blight my Spring.  
Richard’s garden is a room where we entertain, so the design is ambitious and the flowers must make an impression, unlike the anemones and aconites that I plant under the trees.  My small bulbs are lost amid his banks of orange hyacinths, the bold hanging baskets in royal blue and scarlet which make the backdrop to his energetic parties.  The parties are just like Richard, full of a furious energy which overwhelms me so that I am not myself.  Sometimes, at night, I imagine I am lying out here in the cold pool.  I imagine my skin becoming icy white and blue, my arm stretched out like Ophelia’s among the geranium petals and willow leaves, and in the morning Richard will search for me everywhere.  
But he will never find me.  
Ophelia, water feature, famous paintings, pre-Raphaelites 
Dogs Delight is now available on Kindle at