Sep 282012

St Albans

I went back to my hometown of St Albans the other day and nearly fell off my bike when I saw this annual mix on a roundabout.

It would have made an impact if I’d been sailing past it in a car, but at close quarters it really was something. Cosmos, calendula, nigella, poppies, mallows and nicotiana were all doing their thing perfectly.

A notice next to the roundabout explains that St Albans Council has replaced some of its bedding schemes with annual seed mixes as they’re more sustainable, wildlife-friendly and (ahem) drought tolerant. The schemes have won two Anglia in Bloom awards recently.

If anecdotal evidence is anything to go by, the mixes have gone down well with the locals. My sister’s friend Nina likes the scheme in Clarence Park so much she wants to sow one in her own garden, and my friend Jo, not known for her plant knowledge, mentioned in passing that the roundabout by the Cricketers pub is looking different this year.

Meadow-style planting is certainly having a moment, thanks in part to the planting at the Olympic Park, and sales of ‘wild’ flowers are apparently at an all-time high. I really hope St Albans Council (and other councils around the country) continue planting annual mixes – they’ve got to be more exciting than boring old coleus and begonias.

Jun 182012

Warren Street

This window box was home to the first daffodil I saw this year, and now it has erupted into colour again, this time with wallflowers and a couple of plants you wouldn’t expect to see in flower yet – a dahlia and a tobacco plant (nicotiana). Despite the fact that it’s felt pretty cold in central London, it’s clearly still a microclimate compared to the rest of the country.

Oct 012011

Regents Park

Yesterday evening I walked through Regents Park. It was busier than I’ve seen it all year, full of people enjoying the summer we never had. They were quaffing wine, having picnics, playing football and eating ice cream, seemingly oblivious to the fact that in less than an hour it would be completely dark.

I find this time of year a bit difficult. I love summer, and wouldn’t mind autumn either were it not for the fact that it’s followed by winter. We often get some late lovely weather, as we are this year, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the show’s almost over. And yet lots of plants, like the people in the park, seem oblivious to the fact that soon they’ll be nipped by a nasty frost or plunged into darkness, and are still innocently flowering their socks off.

But enough of this doom and gloom. This weekend, I’m going to ignore the fact that it’s October. Apparently there are ripe raspberries and strawberries at my allotment and the forecast is 28 degrees. So I’m going to don my sunnies and flip flops, pretend it’s July and forget all about the predictions of snow at the end of the month.