I walk past this garden every day, and it gives me an inordinate amount of pleasure. Unlike pretty much every other garden in St John’s Wood, it is entirely unreconstructed. It has no box balls, just some traditional shrubs and perennials. It doesn’t have electric gates, just a Rosa rugosa trained along a few wires, and no hard landscaping apart from a little pond. There’s always something new to look at, and over the past few weeks it has been filled with primroses, forget-me-nots, pulmonaria, daffodils and an azalea. It’s semi-wild, but lovingly tended.
My SJW mole tells me that the house is a Buddhist monastery. It’s the former home of Christmas Humphreys, a barrister (he worked on the Ruth Ellis case) and a Buddhist. After his death he bequeathed the house to a Zen foundation.
I love the fact that the house isn’t owned by an oligarch or a banker, but some gentle people who meditate. I hope they never have cause to sell it, because if they do, it will be paved over and some box balls added just as soon as the new basement and electric gates have been put in.
When I had a balcony I was tempted by shelves as a way as cramming more plants in, but I couldn’t quite figure what to do with them. But I see now that the trick is to fill them with the same type of plant in the same type of pot for maximum effect, as they do at East Ruston Old Vicarage.
At the moment I could fill this blog with weird planting combinations that should never be seen together – such as wallflowers and roses, shown here. Suffice to say that I saw daffodils and roses flowering on the same day, and I’m still recovering from the shock.
It’s a bit early for swathes of tulips yet – these are under glass at the Eden Project. As tulips need lifting and replanting every year for the best display (which is expensive, labour intensive and not sustainable) the gardeners tend to favour daffodils. The Mediterranean biome, however, is the exception to the rule. Particularly striking are the swathes of the orange ‘World’s Favourite’, so bright it almost looks photoshopped, set off by the tiny acid-green sedums and grasses.
The man in the green T-shirt and funny hat is a ‘pollinator’ – he shows kids how plants grow. When he’s not doing that he polishes leaves in the warmth of the biome. It strikes me as a pretty nice job.
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.
Spring really seems to be on its way in London – camellias and rhododendrons are out, a haze of green shoots is covering trees and magnolias have big fat buds on them. These are the first wallflowers I’ve seen though – coupled with white narcissi. They run the length of a balcony. Whoever lives here has similar taste to me when it comes to daffs…