Plants behaving oddly Posted on April 5, 2017

Blatant but not blowsy: Magnolia 'Star Wars', Kew, 31 March

Has this been the best year ever for Kew’s magnolias? It doesn’t really matter; last Friday they were sublime, under an azure sky with the proper proportion of fluffy white clouds, and an improper one of big shiny aeroplanes. The air was balmy, the breeze just enough to dislodge a petal here and there to brush past you on its way to lie at your feet. You must hold one to your cheek; there is nothing softer or cooler.

In the woodland garden the breeze jostled the white erythroniums from Oregon. Some pointilliste had filled a meadow with purple and white fritillaries. In the alpine house Tulipa sosnowskyi from the Caucasus was in orange and yellow flame. By the lecture rooms the huge bones of Eucalyptus dalrympleana shone white in the sun. Congested green flowers burst out of maples, embryo catkins from wingnuts, and tiny green points of leaf everywhere. All too soon? When times are out of joint like this is it is difficult not to feel a little surge of panic. Is this thrilling performance the swan song?

But then Kew induces the sense of a Grand Order of Being. Every plant is listed and assigned a place. At Kew God proposes, man disposes.

Hugh’s Gardening Books

Sitting in the Shade

This is the third anthology of Trad’s Diary, cherry-picking the past ten years. The previous two covered the years 1975…

Hugh’s Wine Books

Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book

I wrote my first Pocket Wine Book in 1977, was quite surprised to be asked to revise it in 1978,…

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The Garden Museum