When all else is dismal, dank and increasingly slimy, the garden produces its last hurrah, with a conjuror's flourish. Every year I forget that this is going to happen, and so deny myself the pleasure of anticipation, like I do with the first rose bloom of the season.
For most of the season the pampas grass provides a green exclamation mark in the centre of the top part of the garden, doing its job of dividing two areas into separate entities . Then in autumn the luxuriant plumes start to appear, emerging out of their casings gradually over the course of several days.
Now, there is pampas grass and pampas grass ! I remain totally unmoved by the stiffly upright military plumes which are seen more commonly. But the variety which, by chance, I have in the garden is totally different. The plumes are pendulous, weeping things of beauty, blowing in the wind and rippling in the sunlight.
Not only that ... they are PINK! Almost sacrilegious, I know ! Forget boring old cream, 'cos pink is the new kid on the block.
If you want to be gender specific, it is very feminine, compared to the shorn rigidity of the more common upright variety.
Some of my soldiers have fallen in the line of duty already, buffeted by the high winds and heavy rain, so they are a fleeting pleasure.
I must have bought this Pampas Grass, and made that decision maybe twenty five years ago, but I have no idea where I got it from, or the name of the variety. But, there it is, brightening every dreary December day, bringing freshness, colour and movement to a fading garden.
The very last hurrah before the snowdrops herald a brand new growing season, and do you know something ... that isn't far away at all.