Friday, 8 June 2007

A Garden is a Lovesome Thing

Earlier this week, the sun gave hope - a false hope as it turned out - that summer was upon us. My response was to rush up to the Clergy House terrace, where the flowers are starting to show forth in strength. Tuesday was a particularly glorious day, with a light breeze and cloudless sky. Whatever sanity remains to me is nourished here, the rigours of a busy day melting away as I set to, watering and weeding.

I love my olive trees; their language is mediterranean, and they match the exotic mood of the Cathedral architecture - and they even offer a little shade. In the early morning, they prove an enchanting and evocative spot to offer up prayers.

The terrace is not overlooked, and is completely open to the sky. This proves both a blessing and a curse: sunshine, when it occurs, is uninterrupted by shadow - but the wind can be catastrophic. On a day where there is no breeze at street level, five long storeys below, there can be a powerful and damaging wind up on the terrace. For this reason, the olive tree is braced with staves. In the most sheltered corner (above) are the most delicate plants - some citrus trees and a pomegranite. They flourish in the heat, but a day or two of steady wind can set them back. I have talked with the Maintenance Department about some form of windbreak, but we are limited by our location, and I am reluctant to reduce the magnificent view.

One of my most beloved spots is the herb garden, set around a fountain, and neatly disguising a conjunction of lightening conductors. The staple of any herb garden, in my book, has to be rosemary and basil - the former, by tradition, smells of the swaddling cloths of Our Lord, while the latter transports one in an instant to Tuscany, and is a longed-for summer treat. Basil, however, is fragile in our climate, and never lasts the winter. Alongside, the lavender is just about to break forth, while the spicy sage, with its Christmas memories, is thriving.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really like your rooftop garden but the grubby tiles detract from the garden.

universal doctor said...

This reminds me of the most stunning example of a Roman terrazza: the roof of the Hotel Minerva in Rome is home to the most exquisite (and expensive) bar. The views are breathtaking: the dome of the Pantheon seems to be within your reach, and you are transported to another world.

Ivo said...

That's a very nice rooftop garden - away from the bustling noise below...

Silly proposal: you could put some nice green turf on the tiles, and put up some trellises with ramblers to create 'garden rooms'. :)

Serious question: what is the purpose of the icon on the roof (second photograph)?

Administrator said...

Dear Anonymous; I agree with you about the tiles, and they are rather slippery when wet. I would love to take up Ivo's suggestion, but have been informed that the roof would not suppor the weight of grass, particularly when wet. However, I am investigating the possibility of some screens, to cut down the wind. I am relictant, though, entirely to compromise the sense of openness that is there.

The icon of St Augustine was a gift from the 'Scola Musivi Carthaginensis', a mosaic workshop in Tunisia that has resurrected the Roman north-African mosaic tradition.

I know that terrace, universal doctor, and visited it when our present Cardinal took possession of his nearby titular Church of S Maria sopra Minerva. Amid many glorious Roman terrazze, it is surely one of the best!

Anonymous said...

Would artificial turf be too weighty?

Anonymous said...

Hot soapy water, drop of bleach and a good scrub will cure the grubby tiles. It will also cure the slippiness when wet!