Spider plants

Spider plants in a window box

I’m a big fan of spider plants in a window box. What other plant would trail as brilliantly as this? This pic reminds me of the wonderful window boxes I saw a while back in Connaught Square – they had a few spider plants stuffed into them, in between numerous other delights.

The worst gardener in the world could keep a spider plant alive. I’ve got a couple hanging from the ceiling in my conservatory. They’re hideously pot bound and starved of water a lot of the time (I always seem to forget about them), and exposed to huge extremes of temperature. And yet they still keep pumping out their little baby plants, which I pot up occasionally. You know they’ve finally had enough when their leaves turn very pale, but give them a quick water and they’re soon as right as rain.

Incidentally, I like these dark wooden window boxes – I’ve never seen anything like them before.


Cheyne Walk

Houseboat on Cheyne Walk

The foulest of days turned into the most beautiful of evenings last week, just as I found myself walking past the houseboats on Cheyne Walk. These are some of the most expensive and prestigious houseboats in the world. There was some interesting planting on quite a few of them, just a little too far away for me to take a picture of. One had a good screen of  Trachelospermum jasminoides for some much- needed privacy, and another had apple trees in barrels – quite a surreal sight, bobbing on the Thames. But I liked the planting on this one best – the contemporary (and mostly edible) planting looked good against the black backdrop.

Emma’s pots


Two years ago, my friend Vicky and I stumbled across Emma’s hairdressing emporium by way of the amazing pot display outside. We now both get our hair cut by Emma and agree she’s the best hairdresser we’ve ever had. She works from home nowadays and it didn’t take me long to find her new place – I could see her pots from halfway down the street. They look equally good from the inside – they’re like living shutters.

Emma has moved flats in London a lot, and wherever she’s lived, she’s created pot displays on steps, railings and windowsills. She’s living proof that you don’t need a garden to garden. She also proves that you can grow most things in a pot – outside her old shop she had potted hydrangeas, hollyhocks and foxgloves. Emma quite likes to talk about plants (novel when you’re getting your hair cut) but she doesn’t like talking about them that much. She’s not really interested in plant names or whether a plant needs sun or shade. She’s simply a creative person with very green fingers.

Guns and roses

Connaught Square
Connaught Square

I had a few minutes to kill before I went for dinner the other night and went for a wander around Connaught Square. One of the houses had a policeman standing outside it, holding a large gun. Two thoughts occurred to me: 1) It’s a pretty poor state of affairs when you have a policeman permanently stationed outside your home and 2) Even if you have pots of money, why live there? It’s off quite a grim part of the Edgware Road, and near Marble Arch, which is equally unappealing in my book. That said, it is within striking distance of the Ranoush Juice Bar, so at least there are some decent falafel in the area.

I found out later that the house belongs to Tony Blair.

But this is not a blog post about Tony B. Liar or his house. It’s about this house, on the corner of the square. It’s covered in roses, the likes of which I haven’t seen since I was in Amsterdam last year. You can’t really tell from this pic but every inch of the house, railings and basement area is covered in some kind of vegetation. It’s a joy to behold.

I especially liked the window boxes. They’re still in winter garb but are powering on. I love the use of the pussy willow branches. Pussy willow is pretty much the best thing you can buy if you have a fiver to spare in autumn – it just goes on and on, even if you put it in a vase without any water. Apparently this house is the inspiration for John’s winter window boxes.

Pansies, pussy willow, heather


Messing about on boats




I always thought I might like to live on a houseboat until I went on one. The boat was rocking very slightly, and I felt instantly nauseous. Back on dry land, I felt as if I was swaying for hours afterwards. Plus I just do not understand locks, am not remotely practical and am not a tidy person. So all in all, I don’t think it’s the life for me.   

On a glorious spring day it did look like a very tempting proposition, though. I loved the little gardens that the houseboat residents have created – everything from wheelbarrows filled with aubretia and beds of tulips to chimineas, little veg patches and window boxes filled with herbs. Very cute.

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