Even if not here, Spring is always happening somewhere. This weekend I tracked it down in London, galloping ahead of us like a runaway horse. At the Poetry Society’s gathering for the Ted Hughes Award and the National Poetry Competition, I was delighted to receive First Prize for my poem Bernard and Cerinthe, which began life among the gorgeous blooms in my friend Susie’s garden.
Cerinthe is a stunner, also known as honeywort or wax flower. I intend to try and grow some in my garden this summer. If this fog lifts and the soil warms up.
It also gave me an excuse to visit the lovely Garden Museum and see their exhibition on Fashion and Gardens. Lots of fascinating connections – fabrics, prints and paintings, as well as several mannequins dressed to kill in garden-inspired outfits. The highlight, almost literally, was Rebecca Louise Law’s installation, The Flower Garden Display’d, named after the 1734 book, a month by month directory of flowers, by Robert Furber, on loan from the British Library.
Standing beneath it, the world was turned upside down – ceiling became meadow and, as the flowers were drying and dying, marriage bed became winding sheet. It seemed more Elizabethan than eighteenth century somehow – redolent of strewing herbs and embroidered bodices, Shakespeare sonnets. In the vaulted ceiling of the converted church, catching the light from the arched and stained glass windows, it was sublime – sacred and secular. To walk beneath it was to cross the threshold into whatever April might bring.