Way back in a part of the sixties that wasn’t the Beatles or Flower Power, I fell in love with the Lilacs.
At the time I was living and working in a large country house in the South East of England.
Everything was new and fresh for me – the girl from the West Midlands who was just beginning to explore what might be out there! Of yes we had Lilacs in Walsall. But nothing like these great luxuriant trees.
I can remember standing by an open window in the early evening with a glass of wine in my hand. There had been a shower of rain. The deep scent of the earth and the smell of Lilacs filled the air. Somewhere in the back ground someone was playing an Ivor Novello song on a piano.
I’ve loved Ivor Novello ever since and I’ve always loved Lilacs.
And here is a rather lovely version of that famous song from Alexander Duliba, a classically trained baritone trying to make his mark in the world of Opera.
The most sensual of flowers for those who love Proust!
The Cattleya is a genus of 42 species of orchids from Costa Rica to tropical South America. It was named in 1824 by John Lindley after Sir William Cattley who received and successfully cultivated specimens of Cattleya Labiata (pictured above) that were used as packing material in a shipment of other orchids.
But the full glory of the orchids, their significance and fascination, is shown in Proust’s first volume of Remembrance of Things Past – Swann’s Way. Swann’s lover, loves Cattleyas because they have the “supreme merit of not looking like other flowers” “scraps of silk” – like something cut out of the lining of her cloak – “a distinguished and unexpected sister” – so delicate and so refined! But in due course they take on an entirely different significance when “doing a Cattleya” becomes their code for their intense and intriguing intimate relationship.