Forever seered in my memory is a day in May, seventeen years ago. I can still picture the dirt track wending its way down through a field covered in pernicious weeds, amongst which were
copious amounts of creeping thistles, large areas of nettles, clumps of dandelions peppered here and there, ample evidence of ground elder, and tall couch grass aplenty.
Adjacent to it was a newly-built bungalow in front of which was a large patio paved with drab, grey concrete slabs.
There was a certain romance about the decrepit old barn with the barley field growing behind it and the uncultivated field of weeds adjacent to it.
But the bungalow, with its ugly concrete patio, looked incongruous and far too conspicuous, as if it had somehow fallen from the sky and landed right in the middle of this rustic scene.
My husband thought I’d taken leave of my senses when I said I’d like to come and live in the village, right in the heart of the countryside, when we had a perfectly adequate house in a nearby country town.
All he could see was dereliction and a mountain of work if the field was to become a garden.
I, on the other hand, saw a challenge, possibilities to create habitats for wildlife, maybe even ponds.
I knew I’d need to camouflage the bungalow, however, and quickly do something to soften the hard look of that ugly patio, which was laid out in all its drabness, under the front patio windows immediately adjacent to the front entrance of the house.
Every gardener should endeavour to create an element of surprise - perhaps a graceful statue at the end of a long vista, which draws the eye; or perhaps something enticingly beautiful, with a grace and charm of its own.
For even in an open and windswept landscape, two hundred and twenty-five metres above sea level, there are possibilities for growing stunningly beautiful flowers, which lift the spirits and cause even the most reticent of friends to go into raptures.
Oriental lilies come into this bracket, for they exude exotic perfume, which has the effect of making everyone who passes, stop in their tracks to drink in the heady fragrance.
With their colourful blooms they take on an attractive pose from mid to late Summer, and if luck prevails, will linger till early Autumn too.
Here at Barleycorn, they are a welcome addition to our mixed borders. Flowering this year till the end of October, they gave sustenance to all myriad of insects, butterflies and members of the bee family.
Oriental lilies are seductive, graceful, tolerant in most soils, and bring a touch of the exotic to the garden. In addition to being perennial, their rainbow of colours brightens up even the wettest of Summers, such as the one we have just experienced.
Best of all in my book, they are easily grown in profusion in the tubs and troughs, which cover most of the ugly grey patio I first set eyes on seventeen years ago.