On the patio there stands a forlorn group of herbaceous perennials all waiting to go into my new herbaceous border. Each is a named variety.
In the new bed there are seven or eight already planted and they are named too. I love the Latin names of plants and the way they slide off the tongue - there is a Helleborus niger, an Astrantia Shaggy - it gives them such a sense of importance.
The group already in the garden have plant tags attached. The ones waiting on the patio have their names written on their pots, so this morning on the way to the manicurist I called in and bought some plastic plant tags. When the rain stops (if it ever does) I shall go out and write the names roughly on a sheet of paper and then come in and print them neatly on the tags. That way, when my gardener puts them into the garden, we shall be able to call them by name.
My father was a great armchair gardener. He loved his garden and, most of all, he loved to be able to rattle the Latin names off his tongue. He won a scholarship to go to Grammar School in the early nineteen hundreds but there was no way his parents could afford for him to go. But he became self-educated, reading the classics, learning reams of poetry off by heart and learning the rudiments of Latin.
I remember very little Latin from my Grammar School days (amo, amas, amat: Mensa, mensa, mensam just about covers it) but I do love those Latin plant names and I shall have them in my garden for posterity.
Here is a little poem I wrote about my father in 2007:
The Armchair Gardener.
Swathes of poppies,
banks of delphimium,
frondy ferns, and a
cascade of ponds.
He planned it all from the
comfort of his armchair.
the golden dandelions
and a rash of purple thistles
painted their own canvas.