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Gardening for the Poor of Sight

Posted on Friday, 27 May

Here’s something else which never occurred to me. If I ever thought about it at all, In my inimitably blinkered way, I only ever imagined blind people (even those whom I know personally) enjoying gardens made by someone else – as if they tap-tapped their way carefully along safely engineered paths, occasionally brushing plants with their white sticks to stimulate releases of scent and thereby enjoy the pleasure of identifying at least one of the shrubs or flowers growing around them.  I’m sorry about that: I only hope I know better now. Apart from anything else, of course, you don’t… read more »

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Literary Lavender 2

Posted on Saturday, 14 May

Though this flower seller’s ‘advert’ was collected in a book about London Life in 1912, it seems likely to date as far back as the time of Queen Elizabeth 1st  as part of an ongoing oral tradition. Remember, almost all poetry everywhere belongs in this tradition of words passed from generation to generation:   7           here’s your sweet lavender sixteen sprigs a penny that you’ll find my ladies will smell as sweet as any!   The tradition was evidently still strong in 1929 when Clark’s Flower Song Book included this: 8           Lavender, sweet lavender; come and buy my lavender, hide it… read more »

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Literary Lavender

Posted on Wednesday, 11 May

This is simply the first of what I hope will be many selection of quotations from writers – any writers – who mention Lavender, together with my brief comments on each. Please, feel free to bring your own quotations to this: it is not by any means a definitive selection. Such a selection must start with these words from deaf and blind Helen Keller, who once observed that people were surprised that she could enjoy nature.   1           It is really they who are blind, for they have no idea how fair the flower is to the touch, nor do… read more »

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Lavender leaves things ‘Spick and Span’

Posted on Monday, 9 May

Now, this surprised me: In Singapore, as in London, there is an area called Lavender. Its north-east boundary is Lavender Street. Honest: check it out.  In the 1800s, Lavender district was filled with vegetable farms owned by Chinese immigrants. Later, these immigrants began cultivating sugarcane and the area grew to consist of a mix of vegetable farms and sugarcane plantations. The name is surely an ironic usage: the area’s neighbours were constantly complaining about the district because of the stench ponging out from its fertilizers, its cow dung and its nearby processing plants. Anyone who has ever lived near one… read more »

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“Lavender Works…”

Posted on Thursday, 5 May

For a long time, it has been sufficient for us to believe that ”Lavender works” because other people tell us “it worked for us”; and because it feels natural to believe that something which smells so good and looks so good is likely to be doing some good. It’s a kind of faith.   But it’s not always enough: just for one example, phosgene (used as a poison gas against troops during WW1) smells of pear-drops. I remember grandfather banning those sweets from his house – and from my breath. The other trouble with this way of gathering evidence is… read more »