Today fireworks and bottle rockets will go off (a few escaped last night) to celebrate Queen Victoria's Birthday. But the celebrations have already been underway in my garden for a few weeks now. Each time I go outside, there has been another little burst of colour. The privet hedge leafed out into full green seemingly overnight, and now tiny white showers of flowers are emerging. The grape hyacinth like a million birthday candles pop out of the chocolate mulch. A frilled and midnight-blue iris, weeks earlier than the others, unfurled in a showy flourish and then retreated like an embarrassed actress realizing she's jumped on stage ahead of her cue.
Now the lilacs are bursting out, smelling deeply purple, filling the house with their scent. When I was a teenager, I spent the night at my friend Celeste's house and we watched the royal wedding (Charles and Lady Di) on TV and fell asleep with crushed armfuls of lilacs under our sleeping bags. It has always been one of my favourite scents. The jasmine is popping like fragrant popcorn, the ground cherries are covered in tiny blooms like miniature bottlecaps, and the onions and chives are shooting out their puffy balls of colour. The nameless ferny weed that I've let remain because of its delicate fronds is sending out pink blossoms the shape of forget-me-nots. The star crocus is at its peak. The crabapples all up and down my street are a riot of pink and rose and burgundy, a froth of scent and colour. And the peonies are gathering themselves together for their grand finale, about a week from now. They are the crowning explosion in the flower garden, the dancehall girls in their frilly petticoats, bawdy and blousy and utterly exuberant.They give their all for the fleeting moment they last until heavy rains will inevitably rip off their frills and bend them into the soil. But while they have their brief moment, they dance with all their hearts.