With apologies to all for substandard photographs in today's post.
Nice naffodils, in Saint Jim's
It happened as I was striding through the Whitehall end of St James's Park, last Thursday, on my way to the RHS Council Room to attend a 'teach in' about children and gardens.
I was feeling a bit virtuous and smug, having just walked there from Kings Cross station, and a few moments earlier, had nodded to the statue of my big hero, Captain James Cook, near Admiralty Arch, before walking past the banked flower beds which front the shrubs which, in turn, partially conceal the public conveniences. Bogs in parks are so fussily planted up that it's hardly surprising they're called 'cottages!'
Royal Parks usually do pretty well with their bedding, blending crassness with unnerving colour combinations. When beds are massed, as here at Saint Jim's, they have the effect of making one feel exhilarated but at the same time, slightly nauseous and trembly. This spring, Parks have stuck rigidly to their policy of sustained fortissimo and when I spotted the beds from afar, I was about to adjust my ancient, wrinkled, chammy leather face into a supercilious sneer of superiority when all of a sardine, I was whacked almost senseless by a brutal, olfactory cosh. So instead of scoffing, I found myself swooning in an ecstasy of fragrant pleasure.
I can't play back the perfume, for you but I took a picture with my iPhone which, though wonderful in every other respect, has a totally pants camera. BTW, the other scary thing about the iPhone is its slick shape. It has nowhere to grip and feels like taking pictures with a bar of wet soap. One day, I'm sure I'll drop it, hopefully not like Lucy, though, who gave hers an impromptu bath. Sorry, therefore, about the grotty picture quality, but it gives you a rough idea of what we are up against, visually, at least.
Discreet, quiet, tasteful - iPhone picture of the bedding near
the bogs in Saint James's What colour will the tulips be?
Nothing smells quite as gorgeous as an over-bred polyanthus. Cowslips smell faintly of freesia, a fragrance that instantly recalls early childhood, for me, when my parents would take me into the meadows to pick bunches of them. Some, but not all primroses have a sweeter scent, unless you bruise a leaf which then smells slightly acrid - like school ink. But modern polyanthuses (polyanthes? polyanthi??) seem to have caught up the fragrance of both species and have had that amplified, perhaps in parallel with the grotesquely inflated flower sizes.
A pink haze of cherry blossom, in Saint James's Park.
Not remotely relevant to the post, but pretty, all the same.
I am resolved to grow some of these hybrid monster pollies next year, but will have to erect a black gauze veil over them, so that I can breathe in the celestial vapour without having to endure the hell of those violent colours and blowsy, caricatured blooms.
Speaking of which, the bloody wood pigeons have turned their attention from anemone buds, in my wood garden, to the primulas. The sods!
This post was supposed to describe the sexual promiscuity that has been going on beneath the bushes at the bottom of my garden, but I got carried away by the Royal Parks Bedding Schemes. You see how damaging they can be? Imagine how much they must terrify the horses. More on nice primulas soon.
I'm listening to Strauss's song Die Heiligen drei Könige aus Morgenland. The accompaniment has a musical phrase which sounds just like the theme music for The West Wing.
This day in 1988, I was writing a book called Laissez Faire Gardening for Helm - a chapter on roses. 2000 words in rough in a single day, I boast in my diary. No wonder it needed so much editing!
Fallen petals. Cherry blossom, so long awaited, is soon gone.
Sexual promiscuity in my next post - and that's a promise!