Back down at the cottage for a few days. Bliss. Plums falling from the tree, apples colouring well, some already stewed with blackberries, beans a-ripening (the chill summer ensured a fairly lousy crop), slim young courgettes suddenly ungainly marrows, filbert bracts yellowing, and the new garden chimney rather elegantly draped with the late-flowering silvery white clematis ‘Huldine’. More plants… stuff we bought on the Welsh trip, stuff from our other gardens, stuff from seed pods here… Years, decades, ago we collected some sprigs of a hybrid swarm of Dianthus – lightly frilled petals, pink, white, slightly marked, and with a strong and delicious clove-like smell. Growing in cracks on the rock surface beneath the ancient walls of Dirleton Castle, we fondly imagined that they might be themselves an ancient type. They rooted easily, and we’ve transported them to several gardens since their collection. Of the hundred or so other varieties of pink we’ve grown since then, all have vanished. The Dirletons are still with us, growing in an old stone sink… This summer, I had time to open a few seed pods. Sown immediately, seed germinated in a few days, and we now have enough to line a path or two in the tiny walled kitchen garden now forming in what we call ‘the ruin’.
When we had a proper walled garden, late 17th century probably, we grew pinks as path margin plants. Wonderful smell in midday. The plant we loved the most, though, was the more or less perennial white stock, silvery leafed, semi-double flowered. On a summer morning, opening the garden gate, the still air was woven through with the magnificent perfume. In that garden, the plants were winter hardy – so easily propagated by cuttings or from seed. In the Edinburgh garden, and the Lincolnshire one, they just survive, but down here in the Scottish borders, the first serious frost kills them. I have a few in a nice big pot to see if they will flower reasonably in the garden room. An envelope of seed awaits the sowing, just in case.