The Judas tree

Pink house 2
Brook Green, west London

My favourite blossom is that of the Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum)*. You don’t see it much in this country, although if you’re lucky enough to be in Paris at this time of year, you’ll see it everywhere. This tree looks so pretty against the pink house – the owner says the blossom doesn’t last for long, but it’s beautiful while it lasts.

I loved the hanging basket in front of the window, dangling from one of the gnarled branches.


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Covent Garden

I think I’m changing my mind about begonias. I’ve never really liked them, but first there were the bright orange ones in the tin bath, and now these, still soldiering on in November and creating a splash outside the Lamb & Flag pub.

That’s not a miniature woman that you can see underneath the hanging basket – she’s an ordinary sized one, walking through the alleyway that leads on to Floral Street.

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The Star Inn


I was a student in Bath many years ago, and the city has changed a lot. It was always posh, but it’s got much posher. It’s positively dripping in Farrow & Ball paint, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the council starts issuing compulsory F&B paint charts to all residents soon.

Many of the scruffier, more characterful pubs we used to frequent as students have been replaced by something much more fancy. The Beehive, which used to sell extremely strong scrumpy and pickled eggs, is now the Grappa wine bar. The Hat & Feather, which was always rather notorious, has become Hudson’s Bar & Grill.

But thankfully, some haven’t changed. The Old Green Tree is exactly the same as it ever was, and so is the Star Inn. It’s dark, coffin-shaped and known for its range of beers, and in the early Nineties, it had sawdust on the floor. There’s no sawdust now, but the beer is still good. It has some nice hanging baskets, too, and has just been named ‘Best Pub Without A Garden’ in the Bath in Bloom competition.



Strawberries in a hanging basket

Strawberries in a hanging basket
Nunney, Somerset

It’s a brave and generous person who grows luscious-looking strawberries in two hanging baskets right next to a busy pavement. Nunney is a pretty village with a very grand ruined castle, and it attracts its fair share of tourists. People must be walking past these tantalising berries all day – I wonder how many have succumbed to temptation?

I think the variety is strawberry ‘Toscana’, a new-ish everbearing variety that has pink flowers (you can just see one to the top right of the pic). Something this pretty and edible is the holy grail of gardening as far as I’m concerned, and I will definitely be growing some next year. They will be residing in my back garden, though. I’m not at all generous as far as soft fruits are concerned.

Emma’s place


I don’t think I’ve ever had a ‘girl crush’ before but I might be in danger of developing one. My friend Vicky and I stumbled across Emma’s hairdressing emporium (which doesn’t yet have a name) on Cleveland Street a couple of months back. We instantly loved the way she’d kitted it out (shabby chic might be the best way to describe it) and swooned over the battered green leather sofa in the window and old issues of Vogue. We also fell in love with her black labrador, who she takes for walks in Regents Park, temporarily shutting up shop.

When we went there the other evening to make an appointment for Vicky, we were instantly struck by Emma’s new flamboyant display of pots. It turns out that sheused to live across the road and had a similar display there on the steps of her flat – I’d wondered why it had disappeared. Nasturtiums, geraniums, hydrangeas and hollyhocks spill on to the pavement and create quite a show. From inside the salon, it looks like a real garden.

Vicky and I both agreed that Emma is very cool indeed. Next time we go in we’ll probably discover that she gives all her earnings to charity and is about to discover a cure for cancer.

Paris je t’aime part I

Marais, Paris

I was expecting to see some interesting window boxes and balconies in Paris this weekend, but it probably wasn’t the best time of year for them. And of course very few Parisians have a garden, so it was slim pickings all round for this blog. It actually made me realise how green London is, with its private gardens, squares and parks – although I reckon Paris has the edge when it comes to trees. Almost every street was lined with them.

These daffs were outside a shop in the Marais. You can’t really tell from this pic but the pots were on very long chains: hanging baskets, Paris-style.