Dec 192011

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.

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.