Friday, May 23, 2008



I can't take sun.

My head hurts. My skin prickles. I go weak at the knees.

So, having made a shadow with the shed, I set about making a roof with a vine.

(Eight years ago.)

Madeleine d'Angevine.


I thought Angevine was a place in France. Somewhere southern, hot and romantic.

Now, I realise! - It must be the Vine of the Angelic Madeleine - delicate - and ethereal.

But 'ethereal' it is not.

It's tough; easy to come by; and easy to grow.

This, I thought, would make a perfect roof for my 'bower'.

(Can't stop grinning. I'm not a 'bowery' person.)

(Oh! I've just looked it up. 'Bowery' doesn't mean 'someone who sits around languishing in bowers'. It's 'Farm' (in Old Dutch).

I can milk cows and I like Wellington boots. Perhaps I'm a 'bowery' person after all!)

Anyway - I planted my vine against an east facing wall - next to the bench which runs along the north side of the shed. Then I rigged up a network of washing lines to support it - and waited for my roof to grow.

It took hardly any time. By the third summer, it was sufficiently established for a deep canopy of leaves to weave itself across the garden.

It even grew grapes.

(I had to bend my head sideways when I went to sit down.)

In the autumn (or spring - depending on advice) I pruned it back to three strands - but it replenished itself with enthusiasm and panache. I would have had to work hard, non-stop, to hold it back.

By the fourth year, new growth was long and strong and multi-pronged.


Then the washing lines gave way.

My 'roof' collapsed.

It took days and days to strip off the leaves (for compost) and cut the green twigs into three inch sticks.

(I didn't know what to do with the bigger branches so I hid them behind the Castor Oil plant.)

(And three inches turned out to be too long. The worms refused to chew.)

Oh! Angevine has nothing to do with Angels. It turns out to mean 'From Anjou'.

(Anjou is in the North of France.)


Double bother. I was going to say what happened on Wednesday evening.

(Triple bother. The Castor Oil plant turns out not to be a Castor Oil plant after all - and I'm waiting for Helen to 'phone back and tell me what it is. (She's got one too.)).

Ah! P.S.
Thanks VP - it's a Fatsia Japonica - which means it doesn't have red flowers and it isn't poinsonous.
It has white flowers (like onion flowers) (when it's the right time for flowers) (which isn't now)and clusters of large round black berries sticking out on stalks. (Which are there now.) (They've been there for a couple of months).
I like to pretend it's a fig tree because the leaves are fig-tree-like.
I have two vines and one olive tree. To have a fig would complete the imagery of peace and comfort and un-excessive plenty.
_ _ _ _ _


Anonymous said...


It sounds like you are having a bit of bower bovver. I hope it all sorts itself out.

Thank you very much for the beautiful picture of Wilb. She likes it very much.

You are right of course about her occasional appearances, she suits herself you see so it's difficult to put her on the blog when I feel like it.

Hopefully she will make some more appearances soon.


Patrick said...

Hi Esther:

I'm honored by the mention in your sidebar.

Congratulations on the Fork'n Monkey!

garden girl said...

Esther, thank you for the sidebar mention!

Congratulations on your Fork'n Monkey Award! The 'Is there anyone out there' category seems a perfect fit for your blog!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Just had to mention that there was a series of lame-o movies in the 1940s (I think) featuring "The Bowery Boys." They were from New York City (Brooklyn?), so there was nothing remotely rural or farmlike about them. (I don't know much about New York, never having even been there, but I think the Bowery is a neighborhood.)

chey said...

Oh my Esther, it sounds as if you've been having a bit of a time with your vine. So sorry to hear of the collapse of your roof. Perhaps it will grow back.

Congratulations on your award as well!!

this is my patch said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog Esther, I'll be keeping an eye on yours from now on. You are in my sidebar. Congratulations on the award, I always feel so honoured when I get one. Don't win much else! x

VP said...

Fatsia japonica?

Esther Montgomery said...

VP - Yes! That's the one! Fatsia Japonica.