Diary of the Plague Year: Day 70 24 May 2020: Anchusa

After the two days of wild weather it felt very still this morning. I was up early and in the garden by eight.

I wanted to transplant the primroses, that were plotting to take over the flower garden, and I also wanted weed the gravel path.

The anchusa turns out to be a type of Bugloss. I thought it reminded me of the wild Viper’s Bugloss from the Creek from so long ago. The bees seem to like it as much. It is a much deeper blue that its wild cousin though.

R came over yesterday with some flax seed and ajuga cuttings and stayed to lunch; Ratatouille and bulgur wheat.

Afterwards went up to J’s to collect a starter for kefir.

First photo: view from the kitchen window of the calf next door: kefir; flax seeds.

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 69 23 May 2020: New Plants


Papaver Royal Wedding. Will die back and reappear in autumn. Perennial

Verbena Buenos Aires. Hardy Perennial

Bell Flower Campanula poscharskyana Alpine. Evergreen.

False Lily of the Valley Maianthemum bifolium. Spreading perennial.

Globe Thistle Echinops bannaticus “Blue Globe”. Perennial.

Dragon’s Head Dracocephalum grandiflorum. Perennial

Erigeron Glaucus “Sea Breeze”. Hardy perennnial.

Digitalis Purpurea F1 Dalmatian White. Hardy perennial.

Lamium maculatum “White Nancy”. Spotted Dead Nettle.

Lawn Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile Treneague.

Catmint Nepeta “Six Hill Giant”



Fountain Grass

Cherry Hedelfinger


Viburnum Tinus (Laurustinus)

Magnolia Stellata

Lavandula Augustifolia Hidcote Blue

Eucryphia cordifolia Ulmo

Drimys lanceolata “Red Spice”

Euphorbia amy. Purpurea

Rose Blanc Double de Coubert

Iris Bearded Iris English Cottage

Lonicera caerulea Duet

Cotinus Royal Purple

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 68 22 May 2020: Snapped by the wind

Gale force winds all night and into today. They are just dying down now at 10.45 pm. I took the precaution of tying my new foxgloves to stakes, like one of those old-codger gardeners, and I am very glad I did. On one of my other plants (name unknown) stems had snapped right off.

Not only have we had crazy winds to contend with but the other night farm trailers rattling noisily into the wee hours. They have bright lights too which cast immense shadows and a sudden glaring red light when they thunder past. Not very restful.

Had a very lazy day today. Went into Clon to pick up veg, milk, etc. Then home and read over my writing piece about ‘Summer” – I just wrote about the garden.

Then watched Britten’s Gloriana from ROH. Richard Jones’ production, which I would normally love but thought the production, set in a village hall, too clunky. It must have cost a lot of money to make it look that cheap.

Other than that have just spent two days slogging through my AC application for for project funding. It’s always a soul-destroying exercise and hard work but such a huge relief when it’s all over. If by some major miracle we did get the funding I would be working with B on interviews which would be a treat.

Meanwhile our Memoir writing course is on hold because the tutor does not think Zoom would work for us. Eh? It works perfectly well with Denyse and the other writing group.

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 67 21 May 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)


After whose stroke the wood rings,
And the echoes!
Echoes traveling
Off from the center like horses.

The sap
Wells like tears, like the
Water striving
To re-establish its mirror
Over the rock

That drops and turns,
A white skull,
Eaten by weedy greens.
Years later I
Encounter them on the road----

Words dry and riderless,
The indefatigable hoof-taps.
From the bottom of the pool, fixed stars
Govern a life.



Faber and Faber

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 66 20 May 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Martial (40 AD – 102/104 AD)

Martial was known for his witty, scathing and sophisticated epigrams:

He’s healthy – yet he’s deathly pale;
Seldom drinks wine and has a hale
Digestion – but looks white and ill;
Sunbathes, rouges his cheeks – and still
Has a pasty face; licks all the cunts
In Rome – and never blushes once.
And then you are completely blindsided by:
To you, my parents, I send on
This little girl Erotion,
The slave I loved, that by your side
Her ghost need not be terrified
Of the pitch darkness underground
Or the great jaws of Hades’ hound.
This winter she would have completed
Her sixth year had she not been cheated
By just six days. Lisping my name,
May she continue the sweet game
Of childhood happily down there
In two such good, old spirits’ care.
Lie lightly on her, turf and dew:
She put so little weight on you.


Selected and translated by James Michie

Penguin Classics

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 65 19 May 2020: Quotidian Poetry: THE FLORA: John Lydgate (?1370 – ?1451)

Lat no man booste of conning nor vertu,
Of tresour, richesse, nor of sapience,
Of worldly support, for all cometh of Jesu:
Counsail, comfort, discresioun and prudence,
Provisioun, forsight and providence,
Like as the Lord of grace list dispoose;
Som man hath wisdom, som man hath elloquence –
All stant on chaunge, like a midsomer roose.
Wholsom in smelling be the soote floures,
Full delitable, outward, to the sight;
The thorn is sharp, curyd with fresh coloures;                                            (covered)
All is nat gold that outward sheweth bright;
A stokfish boon in dirkeness yeveth a light;
Twen fair and foul, as God list dispoose,
A difference atwix day and night –
All stant on chaunge, like a midsomer roose.
It was the Roose of the bloody feeld,
Roose of Jericho that grew in Beedlem                                              (Bethlehem)
The five rooses portrayed on the sheeld,
Splayed in the baneer at Jerusalem:
The sonne was clips, and dirk in every rem,                                        (eclipse, realm)
When Christ Jesu five welles list uncloose
Toward Paradis, called the rede strem –
Of whos five woundes prent in your heart a roose.


An Anthology of Poetry and Prose
Compiled by Fiona MacMath

Diary of the Plague Year: Day 64 18 May 2020: Quotidian Poetry: Alice Oswald (1966 – )

An extract from DART
There the musky fishy genital smell
of things not yet actual: shivering impulses, shadows,
little amorous movements, quicksilver strainings and   
each winter they gather here,
twenty seals in this room behind the sea, all swaddled
and tucked in fat, like the soul in its cylinder of flesh.
With their grandmother mouths, with their dog-soft
    eyes, asking
who’s this moving in the dark? Me.
This is me, anonymous, water’s soliloquy,
all names, all voices, Slip-Shape, this is Proteus,
whoever that is, the shepherd of the seals,
driving my many selves from cave to cave …


Alice Oswald

Faber and Faber