Take a stroll through the dunes from Carn Near to Great Rock and you will find yourself walking through swathes of wild agapanthus growing in the marram, bracken and heather. Right now the massed ranks of flowering stems are starting to appear and it’s one of my favourite times of year.
The sight always reminds me of being a gardener in the Abbey Gardens. Agapanthus cutting was probably the job that I looked forward to the most. The flowers used to bring a bit of income in to the gardens, so at this time of year it was not unusual to see the gardeners out in the dunes at around 7am, wading through the marram grass with bundles of agapanthus stems under their arms.
Sometimes the mornings were perfect; clear, pale blue skies, not a breath of wind and the only sounds were the snip-snip of secateurs and the lazy flop of a wave on the beach. Even on these glorious days we would all wear our heavy duty waterproofs. Walking through the long grass, there was not only soaking dew but also a fair few brambles to watch out for. The colours of the yellow oilskins, the blue agapanthus and the marram lent the process a painterly quality, while the early hour meant that conversation was kept to a minimum.
The flowers were carefully laid out in the back of a small trailer, which was driven back to the garden shed where the packing was done. We would finish cutting by 10am before the sun got too hot and concentrate on getting all the flowers packed up by lunchtime and in time to get the piles of boxes across to St Mary’s for loading onto the steamer.
We stopped sending agapanthus away some years ago. The prices fell so low that it simply wasn’t worth the effort. The flowers are still there, of course, and so am I sometimes but now I’m just cutting flowers for home.