I’ve a friend whose little lawn is bordered by plants, flowers and trees, tumbling with colour and dappled with shade. There’s a small peach tree and, everywhere, honeysuckle. She has a Botany degree, though she dismisses any suggestion that academe has anything to do with her creation. She’s not that robust but she dug a small pond herself which welcomes a returning frog or two each year, and their spawn, and a flurry of tadpoles which get bigger and more frog-like as you look at them. She has a cat which, fortunately for the frogs, prefers to stay indoors and sleep. And sleep.
In a small greenhouse, seedlings, shrubs, tomato plants, geranium cuttings, petunias and many other nurslings grow and gather strength. Tall sticks lean against the glass outside, and runner beans in flower climb ever higher. She’s involved today in planning a fund- raising day for famine victims in Africa. My friend says she does not believe in God.
I think she does.
What a tradition of service there is in people who are unsung and unnoticed. Not that it matters to them. Their reward is in what they do.
Tonight, in my garden, I looked at a mulberry tree, ten years in our lawn here but which began life at our London house. In the dry weather it is already showing signs that it will shed its leaves.
It has a scion (I think that is the word) in a cutting I took from it years ago and which is flourishing in a large pot. I lavished it with water today.
And I thought of my friend. Our tree was grown from a fruit which she garnered in Stratford-on-Avon, from a mulberry tree whose genes can by traced back to the bush which William Shakespeare planted when he retired to his home town.