Half a million spent on cranes and forklifts and trucks, lifting rock from a stately home (that doesn’t need to profit, what with the visitor tariffs and gift shop and restaurants) and digging up another site on monied ground. Planting up the flowers and pumping water through like it was a stream, a real stream. The Champagne people are here, stroking their chins and their wallets. The Royals stagger through. The paying people gawp. They look at the sandstone, at the scale. They feel in their pockets for cash. They forget that all this is theirs; that the land lives.
– What are the white flowers in the grass?
– Cow parsley, said John.
– No, no, Alex starkly corrected him: it’s Queen Anne’s Lace. She held his stare. He turned around and started down the lonning.
– Maybe May flower, something, he said.
– What was that?
– Nothing. Nothing.
Jack ran up to his heels:
– Does the cow eat the parstley?
– I don’t think so.
– Why did mummy say it was Queen’s Laces.
– She… well, it’s called that too. It has different names.
– It depends.
Alex had caught up and took Jack’s hand:
– You’ll tell him it’s about class.
– Don’t dislike me.
She is the daffodil girl with the golden hair. She is here in the spring, telling us to slip off our winter coats. She is warmth and smiles, turning her face to the sun and the coming summer. She brings tales of childhood and hopes for the year ahead. I sometimes think the garden grows for her, because of her, in need of her. If in autumn she is nowhere, remember she’ll be back – glimpses of her come like a miracle even in the ice of January. She is always there; beneath the seasons she is constant. She is life.