I went to my first NADFAS lecture this morning as a paid up member. As I stood in the lobby waiting for the friend who persuaded me to put my name down for it, the fact that I was still mentally in the garden running through the long list of jobs to be done must have shown in my face, for the chairman and then somebody else I know from the music society commented that I looked lost and asked if I was alright, and I had to explain that I was fine, I just had a vague resting face. It is a very small world in the provinces, though. My friend once she arrived tried to introduce me to another friend of hers, but we had already met because his wife helps run the Wrabness church concerts and the garden society, and when I saw the contact details for an art study day being run by the other Colchester branch of NADFAS I recognised the name of one of the people I went on the London pre Great Fire churches tour with, and when yesterday morning I met a different friend for coffee I discovered that they were friends too.
I do not think I will be going to any extra study days just at the moment. It's enough of a panic making it to the monthly lecture. Still, I enjoyed it once it started, as I thought I would. It was about the artistic careers and lives of Gwen and Augustus John, though as the lecturer said, apart from the fact that they were brother and sister there was no particular reason why you should compare them. Before the lecture I thought that on the basis of what I'd seen of their work I preferred Gwen, but I discovered during the talk that this is now mainstream artistic opinion. Indeed, Augustus himself said a decade after his sister's death that in the long run he would be remembered mainly as the brother of Gwen John. My opinion of his work actually rose during the course of the talk. I have seen one or two pretty idle and splashy paintings of his, one of his wife and mistress walking with assorted offspring across a lurid landscape that really quite annoyed me, but he could handle colour wonderfully when he was on form, to judge from the slides, and I like colour. Gwen is interesting, though, less colourful but with a much more sophisticated use of paint.
I was expecting a box of plants for shade, which duly arrived during their booked one hour slot just after lunchtime. It was a gentle relief that they turned up as planned so that I could open the box and reintroduce them to the world of light, air circulation and water. It's not that hot yet, but quite warm enough to be driving around in a plastic container inside a cardboard box in a van, especially when you are a fern. All are hardy, some that should be able to cope with relatively dry shade to go in the bottom far corner of the back garden where I was planting Cyclamen hederifolium earlier in the year, and some small ones to go in pots in the conservatory to replace the non-doing begonias. I got them from shade specialists Long Acre Plants in Somerset, and they look very nice plants though I shall have a more definite opinion once I've had them out of their pots.
The bare root cyclamen were a success, by the way. After spending a few more days waiting to be planted than they should have done because I was not very well and the weather was not very nice when they arrived, they all stood up like soldiers once they had been given a good soaking and had twenty-four hours to settle down. If Pottertons are doing them again next winter I would happily buy more, if I wanted any more cyclamen. I am increasingly a fan of mail order for plants, so that I can choose exactly what I need for the spaces available, without being seduced by the charms of things I don't have a place for that have been put in the front line to tempt me, and without having to try and make substitutions on the hoof because the garden centre doesn't have exactly what I'm looking for.