St Albans

Just lately I’ve taken no photos for this blog as I’ve been Christmas shopping and/or it’s been dark. And then this pic from my mum arrived in my inbox. My dad is currently scanning his slides onto the computer, and is rediscovering some embarrassing family photos in the process.

 My mum thought this pic was rather festive, and may point to an early interest in all things horticultural – I certainly seem pretty excited by a nearby shrub. Legend has it that I didn’t have any hair until I was four, and if this pic is anything to go by, that may have been true.
I’m sure this pic is just the tip of the embarrassing family photo iceberg, and I’m off to now to witness the full horror. In the meantime, Merry Christmas!

Too much of a good thing?

Regents Park

Round the back of my office is a hidden little row of houses, and this pot is blooming outside the front door of one of them. My colleague James reckons it contains a Polygala myrtifolia, or sweet pea bush.

A quick Google has revealed that sweet pea bushes flower pretty much all year in mild areas. Which got me thinking: is that a good thing? Surely the pleasure of most plants is that their beauty is fleeting?

I don’t know where I stand on this one. At the beginning of the year I told Huw, my long-suffering co-allotmenteer, that I wanted to pick raspberries from May till November. And we pretty much managed it, thanks to a combo of different varieties and some freaky weather. Was I bored of raspberries by November? No way – they’re my favourite fruit. We also had some sweet peas on the go for a similar amount of time (thanks to Huw’s staggered sowings). I loved them as much in autumn when they were short-stemmed and not very smelly as I did in high summer.

That said, I was quite happy to say a fond farewell to the raspberries and sweet peas when the time came. They were looking a bit strange next to pumpkins and leeks, and a combo of paperwhites and sweet peas on the table was looking rather odd. So I guess on balance, I’m all for a bit of extending the season as much as I can – but ultimately you can have too much of a good thing.

…Unless it’s a sweet pea bush, maybe. As a low maintenance, unusual attractive plant in a pot by a front door, I reckon it’s a pretty good choice.


Covent Garden

I’d heard about Sarastro‘s legendary greenery but had never seen it for myself until last Sunday. The building and pavement are swathed in ivy, ferns and bedding and it’s pretty much an unmissable feature of Covent Garden’s hinterland. It’s one of those gardens-where-there-is-no-garden that I am always pleased to see.

As I was taking a pic, a tourist couple asked us to take a picture of them under one of the arches. They then offered to return the favour and take a pic of us. I’ll spare you that, though, as I’ve yet to see a good pic of myself (no offence to Paul Debois, who took the pic at the top of this blog), and this one was no exception…

The South Bank

The South Bank

I’m walking up and down the South Bank a lot these days and it never fails to impress. Aside from the culture, restaurants and views it’s got loads of thoughtfully planned seating, clever lighting, interesting paving, twinkling lights in the trees and ever changing things to look at.

These silver birches have just appeared outside the National Theatre, complete with tweeting bird sounds emanating from their branches. It’s an other-worldly addition that’s almost eerie at night.

The only thing ruining the South Bank at the moment is a mariachi-style band that dominates Hungerford Bridge, drowning out every other busker and making conversation/iPod listening nigh-on impossible for at least a 200m radius. They used to play ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ ad infinitum but now they’ve switched to Christmas carols. The other day I crossed Waterloo Bridge to avoid them, only to find that some of their pals were dominating that one too. Please, please will someone make it stop?!?!!!!………….

Winter cut flowers

Columbia Road

On a quiet day at work once, we were playing a game of ‘If you had a plant named after you, what plant would it be?’ (such are the conversations you have when you work on a gardening magazine). For me, my friend Chauney suggested an ornamental cabbage. He really is such a wag.

I almost wouldn’t mind being named after these cabbages, though – they look like roses.

Actually, there is a plant named ‘Veronica’. Is it a gorgeous rose or sweetly scented sweet pea? No. It’s a cauliflower – one of those lime green romanesco ones.