It is June in Orkney.

June, Orkney, red poppy, Gabrielle BarnbyThe first poppy bursts and the garden delivers up its heart, and it is quick and wild and bright, a rollercoaster that runs all night long, sipping the nectar of light no longer rationed, but strewn like child’s confetti. In the garden beds the bright poppy’s gentlewoman bow in the wind, sweet faced orange gems in short frowsy skirts, the electric blue centauria strain towards the sky then lean over, exhausted from the effort of good posture. The bright libertia grandiflora, its orchid flowers spared from the frost, sing bridal white and rise above the battered brown of their winter worn leaves, where at the base virgin green pushes expectantly skywards.

In the lawn, disobedience is yellow. Creeping buttercup ducks every time the lawnmower passes over and then tiptoes to the next patch of green to spread its sunny joy amid the poor beheaded daisies who hydra-like sprout anew.

In June, the lupins finally rise, their green cones stretch and become purple Gaudiesque steeples thrusting through hands of green. That is June.

It is a lengthening of every possible growing thing, as if the absence of moon and stars has left a void to be filled – that the teacher has left the classroom and riot may temporarily commence.

In this green world their dwells a rich troupe of artisans who plunder from its songbook – bees burrow into flowers as eagerly as young lovers, birds gather and form quick societies attracting each other to feasts on seeds. They never let a neighbour sup alone.

All such admirable qualities are on display in June.

In June, that month of forgiveness and bright plenty.


Some say we only have one month of good weather in Orkney.

But what’s so only about June?



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Gabrielle Barnby