Diary of the Plague Year: Day 23 7 April 2020: An accidental fern garden

A fern and moss garden seems to have naturally formed along the old garden path.

A great deal of moss seemed to grow during the winter months and there is little colony of ferns and mosses forming quite serendipitously. It would be almost impossible to plan. I love it when this sort of thing happens in the garden and the plants seem to decide for themselves.

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 23 7 April 2020:


Into the garden this morning, the sun is out, cloudless.

The air actually smelt faintly of hot cross buns this morning. There is nothing like the air of West Cork. I think if I was lying in a darkened hospital room and someone brought in a bottle I would recognise it immediately. It is indefinable; a slight salt tang, grass, the inevitable undertone of slurry, though I would know it immediately. It is especially lovely first thing and in the evening. The air of an Irish evening after rain or a warm day … the lovely thing about getting up early is the morning air.

Gardening jobs can be divided roughly into two classes:

i.    hard work but enjoyable; and
ii.   hard work but deadly, deadly dull.

I have just come in from carting barrow-loads of hay off the meadow which I would definitely define under category ii.  If leave the mown grass it will mulch down and the goodness will improve the soil.  If taken off, wildflowers, in theory, should flourish as they prefer poor soil.

Am giving myself a well-earned tea break now and to listen to the no-doubt ghastly plague news.

Hot off the press:  Boris Johnson is in ICU.

If there is a God he is definitely an ironist.

Tea, news, a less-boring gardening job and then more barrowloads ….

Having reviewed my old notebooks recently I think I will start keeping one again. I thought this diary would take its place but actually there is nothing like the spontaneity of a book and pen.


Diary of the Plague Year: Day 23 7 April 2020: Quotidian Poetry John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-80)

John Wilmot


To the Postboy


Son of a whore, God damn you, can you tell
A peerless peer the readiest way to Hell?
I’ve outswilled Bacchus, sworn of my own make
Oaths would fright Furies and make Pluto quake.
I’ve swived more whores more ways than Sodom’s walls
E’er knew, or the college of Rome’s cardinals.
Witness heroic scars, look here, ne’er go.
Cerecloths and ulcers from top to toe.
Frighted at my own mischiefs I have fled
And bravely left my life’s defender dead,
Broke houses to break chastity, and dyed
That floor with murder which my lust denied.
Pox on’t, why do I speak of these poor things?
I have blasphemed my God and libelled kings.
The readiest way to Hell? Come quick, ne’er stir.


BOY:                    The readiest way, my lord, ‘s by Rochester


John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester
Selected Works

Penguin Classics