30 May – In an English country garden

To walk around this garden is to walk around the world
as exotic origins, like petals, gently unfold
and betray that the seeming most English of sights
are awash with much more foreign and distant delights.
Lavender, stocks, hollyhocks and sweet sweet peas
come from a range of far-flung regions and countries.
The Middle East, Canary Islands, China and Italy
are where these should variously be found and seen.
When you contemplate the blaze of Rhododendron’s colours,
you might not be quite so surprised to learn and discover
that its blousy blooms belong in Portugal, Turkey and Spain.
But I think you might be shocked when I take time to explain
that daffodils and tulips come from similar areas,
though perhaps less so that camellias are found in Malaysia.
The British-butterfly-blessed Buddleia is actually Chinese
and I beg you must believe me, honestly, please,
that Wisteria grows in climes such as Japan and Korea
while some strains of lily come from Northern Armenia.
Lilac started life in Europe, but in its southern-most parts
and Hyacinth is Bulgarian or Palestinian at heart.
English roses are a mixture of indigenous and not –
but last not least, don’t let it ever be forgot
that Clematis, though its folk name is ‘Traveller’s Joy’,
truly is English, yes it’s absolutely the real McCoy!
It’s not just our population that blends ethnicities,
our soil is bursting with international species –
some gifted, others discovered, still more plundered by ill gains,
but whatever the story, the results are now the same;
English country gardens perhaps need a new name,
something that better reflects their cosmopolitan fame!

30 May - In an English country garden