Thursday, March 20, 2014

Youthful Mistaken Horticultural Imaginings

Rebecca, by Daphne DuMaurier,  has one of the best beginnings of any book, ever. I thought of it today when we visited Nymans, a National Trust Garden. It starts:

"Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me.... 

I saw that the garden had obeyed the jungle law, even as the woods had done. The rhododendrons stood fifty feet high, twisted and entwined with bracken, and they had entered into alien marriage with a host of nameless shrubs, poor, bastard things that clung about their roots as though conscious of their spurious origin."

When I had read this, I never heard of Rhododendrons before - they don't grow well in Minnesota.  I imagined them to look kinda like this:

With maybe a little bit of this thrown in:

Imagine my surprise when they turned out to look like this:

and this:

I love them now. I have some in my own garden.  The COG's parents had a huge one growing by their drive, with the same red blossoms as the one in the picture. 

1 comment:

Kate said...

The opening sentences of Rebecca are indeed among the best first lines in English lit, and your recreation of the flora imagined by adolescents in the rhododendron void is perfect. I'm still believe that Spanish moss is well described by the "host of nameless shrubs, poor, bastard things that clung about their roots."

Still, the photo gives the red rhododendron a certain sinister quality. Imagine that 50 feet high...!