Carefree, confident cornflowers

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I’ve been planting lavender in generous drifts with the obsessive focus of a Taylor Swift fangirl making a 30th-birthday tribute to Tay Tay.

Not Italian lavender, nor French lavender. English lavender.

The former is all very well and nice and all – think vivid purple hues in Provence, drinking wine, reading Proust and telling everyone back home you are abroad. Yet English lavender is sprightly and wiry, like a ballerina off-duty.

My friend Kirsty raved about Grosso, which is actually a hybrid. Grosso’s stems are almost waif-like, delicate, more like a poem than a plant. At the Victorian Fete I bought six plants, then another four (and at other nurseries another six plants).

My lavender fever in overdrive, I planted in drifts – three here, three there, forming a kind of loose structure around the hydrangeas.

Eventually (or so I hope) Shasta daisies will form a kind of groundcover beneath the lavender as I continue to dig up the lawn.

The lawn is the bane of my life (that, and the Tory victory this week).

In the 1800s, lawn was a symbol of wealth. Only large houses and estates could afford a team of scythe-welding peasants trimming a lawn into proper shape. It’s a salient fact that the Grim Reaper, too, carries a scythe.

Then the lawnmower was invented and, hey presto! Before you knew it the middle class got in on the whole “lawn” business and thousands of cottage gardens were turned into the banality of the lawn.

As my neighbour said the other day, “why waste your weekend mowing the lawn?”, as she directed mulch at her garden. Yet there is a obsessiveness we New Zealanders have about lawns.

Is it green enough? Is it short enough? Are the daisies taking over?

One only needs to look at the overwhelming selection of sprays and potions for the lawn at your local hardware store to understand the national psyche.

Eventually, there will be very little lawn. I dug a pond to obliterate even more lawn.

I lined the pond with old blocks of Oamaru stone, which are sufficiently mossy from lingering in the garden this past year.

The dog and cats appeared to think I had made them a large water bowl for outside. They were most grateful. They craned over the pond lapping up the water as the walnut tree dappled over shade.

Yet the real heroes of the garden are the cornflowers (we like talking about “heroes”, don’t we – there’s always a ”hero” in Masterchef, as if the organic butter is going to suddenly don a cape).

I have given zero attention to the cornflowers. They are just there, happily floating away, their hazy blue heads wafting in the wind like a model off duty.

Here we are, they say – in this case nestled among the hydrangeas and lavender.

No, they are not the much-vaunted peony, “hero” of spring.

The cornflower’s form is a lot more lithe and almost arrogant – it just doesn’t give a damn about the gardener.

Here we are, they say – would you put the kettle on?