I’d be the first to admit that northern Aberdeenshire isn’t looking all that summery. But the climatic conditions have produced an absolute foam of elderflower (rather late). The Professor is making cordials, and consequently, all of our largest bowls are full of steeping vegetation, most of it elderflower, though one is mint and lemon. In consequence, the kitchen is full of the most beguiling smell of summer. I’m just wondering about angelica. It might add a certain va va voom, and there’s plenty out there. Also a propos of the outdoors, we are still dealing with the results of the great garden makeover. We found a spot for the Chapel Market obelisk, which has turned an otherwise dull space into a little green room. I have a new bit of flowerbed to plant up, which is always fun: it’s going to be very dark behind and always semi-shade, so we need exciting leaves: I fancy acanthus ‘Hollard’s Gold’, thalictrum glaucum, that tall campanula which has pure, skim-milk-white bells, and brunnera ‘Jack Frost’ as principal players, maybe some euphorbias, and transplanting a bit of my ‘Gardeners’ Garters’ from elsewhere in the policies. It’s been such a vile year so far that quite a lot of flowering things simply haven’t. You can moan about it, or you can look at the bits where the contrast of differently coloured and shaped leaves makes a continual interest, and draw some conclusions.