Sunday, May 20, 2007

Whither, Frangipani?

George has just returned from his daily inspection of The Frangipani Project.

Always a disappointment.

It seemed a good idea at the time. We'd had a thrilling visit to the local Garden Festival – trampolines, chess-piece plants, musical features, squirting water features, huge bouncing balls just like that ancient cult TV series whose name I’ve forgotten... (except, not self-propelled).

Inspired and channelled irresistibly to the Shop, we wandered round for hours like kids at Christmas. So many wonderful books, plants, ideas and amazing garden stuff to transform our own bit of green – how to choose?

In the end I plumped for some amusing and imaginative greetings cards, and George got a packet of Frangipani Seeds. The picture on the box was beautifully colourful, and you can use its vivid flowers to make those rather fetching welcome garlands - so redolent of its exotic native climes, and a joy for anyone in the grim Arrivals Surge at Paris-Charles de Gaulle.

Unfortunately, George’s hours of sowing and devoted caring for these seeds in a specially-recycled plastic kiwi fruit container, has borne neither fruit nor frange. Maybe six months isn’t long enough for them to hit the surface.

To deepen his gloom, today’s inspection included a frenzied tussle with our first snake of the garden. In fact it was Sabrina-Cat who was tussling, and the poor snake was probably a baby, being only six inches long and half an inch in diameter. So it was the cat who George was trying to belabour about the ears with a big stick.

Since arriving in France, we’ve often been warned about the vicious vipers who love long grass and can’t wait to leap out at you and take a chunk. First forays into our undergrowth were therefore tentative, but a wise friend said just warn them you’re there and they’ll run off. So we stamped our feet, sang hearty songs and thrashed around with garden hoes. This was ludicrously exhausting in a 40 degree summer, and we decided to let them go ahead and bite. They’ve never been tempted.

Until now – seemingly tantalised by the half-buried perfume of George's Project. Do snakes eat frangipani seeds, or will they fiendishly lie in wait for the first juicy shoots to peep through?

Or will the cats just dig it up and piddle all over it as usual? Whither, Frangipani-Project?. And to what end?