Some fall in love with women; some fall in love with art; some fall in love with death.
I fall in love with gardens, which is much the same as falling in love with all three at once.
For a garden is a mistress, and gardening is a blend of all the arts, and if it is not the death of me, sooner or later, I shall be much surprised. A pleasant sort of death, I venture to suggest, which runs in the family. One of my grandfathers died of a clump if iris stylosa; it enticed him from a sick bed on an angry evening in January, luring him through the snow-drifts with is blue and silver flames; he died of double pneumonia a few days later. It was probably worth it.
Then there was a great-uncle who expired because of his passion for pears–not the fruit, but the blossom. He could not, quite rightly, have enough pear blossom; he wanted to hug it, bees and all, as a nice old gentleman should. So he took to climbing up into the branches, and sitting among the wild whtie spray of the flowers, for hours on end, with none but the bees for company. And one day a branch broke, and they found him out there in the orchard, lying on his back, staring up to the April sky, with an expression on his face of the greatest serenity.
I cannot forecast, with any accuracy, the probable nature of my own horticultural demise; at the moment, in view of the fact that the water garden is claiming most of my attention, it will probably take the form of drowning. Indeed, by the time these words are published, I may already have been discovered floating udner a clump of James Brydon nymphaeas, a variety of water-lily which is described in the catalogues as a deep old rose pink that sometimes seems flushed with crimson. That sounds a good description of the prose in which many of the passages in this book will doubtless be written. When I begin to write about flowers I lose all sense of restraint, and it is far, far too late to do anything about it.
You cannot say you have not been warned.