The garden is in full bloom. I always know it’s properly summer when the first of the sweet peas come out; this flower is best stuffed into a simple bottle, leaving the flower and its sweet smell (my all-time favourite scent) to do all the talking.
Some of the roses have gone over, dead-headed in the hope of a second flourish next month, but new ones have blossomed in their place: Wedding Day is rampaging through the boughs of the apple tree, while a little, pale pink bush rose has grown taller than I am. The Japanese anenomes are still in their tight, furry buds but it won’t be long before they’re showing their pretty faces. These days of sun are blissful: paddling pools and ice lollies; lazing in hammocks and deck chairs; the sound of a lawn mower, the smell of cut grass. And I love everything about a line of clean washing in July as it dries in the heat, sways in the breeze, and is still warm to the touch when I change the bed linen.
Each year in winter I forget that the silvery, skinny stick branches of the fig tree will again provide a thick canopy of leaves, sheltering the garden from the height of the heat and dappling the grass with shards of sunlight. The enormous tree bears fruit: waxy globes that change from bud to bulbous fig, but they fall to the ground in late July, unripe. I don’t know why they fail to ripen, and it bothers me as I’d love nothing more than a homegrown fig or two for my breakfast with Greek yoghurt and honey. Our ancient plum tree is also in fruit, which thrills A; it’s a contrary old thing, only deciding to produce plums every other year now, which was a huge disappointment to both A and me last summer.
A couple of weeks ago I bought outdoor festoon lights, which now drape from wall to wall outside the back door. They bring to life this patio passageway, whispering promises of balmy evenings spent drinking something chilled, eating something charred, and laughing, laughing, laughing with friends.