now and then, november 19th

They’re a bit like a row of prophets or saints high up in a cathedral. And they all appear to be of the same person. The words spell out the message THIS IS MY PARK. ? The ever changing series of adverts changes the BFI Imax cinema into a huge hoarding – it ceases to exist as a building. It’s the heart of Waterloo, in the middle of a roundabout, reached by pedestrian underpasses. But just a few yards down the Waterloo Road is St John’s church – on the other side from the station and the buses – and its very nice gardens. See also Icons in SE1

The liquidambar has become a popular tree in recent years. Enterprising councils plant them in the street – this one is in Bouverie Raod, N16. The choice of colour for the car is excellent. Even on a dull November day the leaves still have a glow.

When I said goodbye to the inula in garden notes 31, I didn’t show any celebratory pictures, so here are some:

Here is Hedychium densiflorum, of the ginger family, on september the 9th:

And here it is again, an unexpected bonus since I don’t remember it having this autumn colour before, on november 16th:

This is one of the easiest gingers to grow. It’s fairly hardy, especially if given a winter mulch. It likes it wet and warm. (Like the inula, it comes from the edges of the Himalayas, where winters are dry and summer brings the monsoon.)Mine is in a big pot. I had some of it in the ground, but like a lot of other things it didn’t like my soil, and because it comes into growth quite late it’s easily suffocated by the thrusting hardy plants of spring. I have one or two pieces potted up which I hacked off this spring, if you’re interested…..

And now is the moment for winter jasmine – last of the old or first of the new? Maybe it depends on when you celebrate new year. Jews, muslims and hindus might see it as the first sign of spring. Here you see it with myrtle berries which are sitting waiting for the birds.

The salvias are still busy flowering, like the grasshopper in the moral fable who just goes on having fun (unlike the careful ant) until one day the bitter weather cuts its frivolities short. Most of them have been in flower for ages but this one, Salvia rutilans, which has been quietly growing all summer, doesn’t put out its flowering spikes until october, in some years and in some places too late to put on much of a show. This year however, it’s doing well. No frost yet in N 16.

Its leaves smell of pineapple, which gives it its common name. If there was room in the greenhouse and I could lift the pot, it would go on flowering for half the winter.

I haven’t tried it but apparently the leaves and flowers are edible and help to lower blood pressure. I think just looking at it helps with that.

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3 Responses to now and then, november 19th

  1. Myna says:

    I would like some ginger, please. Though I have no idea when I’ll be down in London or you’ll be up here to bring it. Some years ago I took a root of my allotment neighbour’s inula but it didn’t grow. So if you have any left I’d like some of that too, it’s wet up here. The red and white of the safety tape is keeping up with the leaves on the car colour scheme.

  2. janeandallan says:

    I’d like some ginger too but can’t imagine when I would collect it. 2021? Surely before 2022.

  3. Myna says:

    Jonny, you have the makings of a text and photo book.

    Ten/twenty years of photography and gardening in London:

    Garden notes: Botanical, historical, gardening tips, aesthetic, St Mungos
    Street notes: Things seen from the streets (historical, political, ecological, architectural, aesthetic and cultural commentary)

    Something about the juxtaposition of the details of flowers and the street/building/landscape images you take, all within London.

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