My hair appointment was for nine o'clock. Good, in that it meant I'd be home earlier and it would take up less of the morning. Bad, in that I had to time my arrival during the tail end of Colchester's rush hour, when the traffic would be heavier. I made it with five minutes to spare. At five past the hairdresser called in to say that she was ill and would not be coming to work. My hair is not easy to cut. It is thick, it curls naturally, and it grows in semi-random directions over my head. An inept cut can leave it flopping outwards from the crown from a flat spot through which the scalp peeps. My hairline at the back was once described by a hairdresser with ruthless honesty as 'dodgy'. I don't like it when I have to change hairdressers, and resigned myself to having my hair cut by a strange one because I needed a haircut urgently, and didn't have time to come back another day.
She made a very passable job of it, maybe not quite as short as I'd like, but she was presumably taking a cautious approach with an unfamiliar customer. She was the only one at work, and had to stop snipping a couple of times to answer the phone, but she had my sympathy there. I know from first-hand experience how that feels.
An article in the Independent is headlined Is this the end of costly dyes? Scientists working on cure for grey hair. Apparently if I were to rub my scalp with a topical, UVB-activated compound called PC-KUS ( a modified pseudocatalase) this would reverse the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in my hair follicles which is bleaching my hair from the inside out. Blimey, I never knew that was why it was going grey. I thought the follicles were just not producing pigment any more, or something. Since I don't mind having grey hair, and don't want to smear modified pseudocatalase on my head any more than I want to cover it with hair dye, I'll probably give that treatment a miss, if it ever makes it to the mainstream.
Then it was back to the garden, where another few square metres got fed and Strulched. So much Strulch, so little time. Spring has been concertinaed in on itself. The daffodils were barely out when they were over, the flowers on the 'Tai Haku' had scarcely opened before the leaves opened as well. That was a pity, since the cloud of blossom on the bare branches is one of the glories of the tree. The young leaves are an attractive shade of bronze, but they end the impression of dazzling, overall whiteness. The bright yellow flowers of the Kerria japonica (the single form, more elegant than the double) seemed to have only just opened when they began to fade.
The bright pink flowers of Lonicera tatarica are opening. This is an upright growing, medium sized shrubby honeysuckle. It is not a shrub that connoisseurs would rate at all highly, and would win me no prizes in the choice, rare shrubs stakes (score additional bonus points for species not commercially available in the UK, double them if you collected the seed in the wild yourself, or were given the plant personally by Roy Lancaster). L. tatarica is commercially available, although you will not stumble over one in B&Q. The pink flowers are cheerful, the slightly greyish foliage mildly agreeable, the vertical habit useful where space is limited or screening needed. However, its great virtue is its extreme toughness and willingness to live and look quite happy about life on very meagre rations. Mine is in the entrance bed, graveyard of many a planting scheme. On thin sand, exposed to the wind from all directions, periodically invaded by low level weeds and rarely fed, it contrives to grow and flower. A colleague with a dry garden has found it equally obliging. Hers suffers the additional indignity of being hard pruned to keep it to a more modest size.
And that is enough flower stories for one evening. You probably don't want any more, and I am going out to a ladies' supper in an Italian restaurant that boasts a genuine wood fired pizza oven. After all that weight lifting over the weekend I feel I've earned a pizza.