Kew. 24.01.14.

Some time ago Gloria celebrated a birthday and I promised to take her for lunch. I say celebrated, she has refused to acknowledge it for several months and described this as the feast of the undead until I drew her attention to the main course which was would have been less delicious undead.
We both agreed that a few quick garden visits do wonders for the digestion. A swift walk around Wisley to stimulate the appetite and a swift walk aroung Kew to settle the stomach. The Royal Botanic Lavatories are also very satisfactory for the elderly.
A fine lunch at the 'Indecent Pig' is always improved by the exchange of opinions. I am exceedingly fond of their Flambe du Jour, the most select cuts stir fried and served on fire. Blissful. Goose with Charlock fritters. Quite remarkable.

Let us away to Kew and face the grass borders like whispering gold or the promise of hay.
Gloria and I disagree about these borders. I dislike them because they lack the delicious lushness of the summer border (or stir fried goose). Gloria dislikes them because the sere stems whisper like death (and she has enough problems with voices in her head, though many of them are me).

Turning away we plunge into the rock garden and immerse ourselves in the burgeoning spring.
Galanthus 'Magnet' has lingered on these rocks for decades and has formed great clumps of dangling flowers. These are well in advance of those in my own garden. Perhaps London is warmer than it felt and I have to thank all those who have turned their domestic heating up to provide this early show for us.

Another wonderful spring plant, Helleborus vesicarius prospers here. It is well known for the inflated seed capsules later in the year but the early flowers are much more magnificent to my eye.

The lovely Princess of Wales Conservatory lies on the skyline above the rock garden like a strange quartz formation thrusting up from the bed-rock. It is reliably warm and sometimes that is enough. A few more seats inside would be welcome but perhaps they would simply fill with the snoozing and snoring hordes.
The Conservatory is being prepared for the great Orchid Extravaganza in February. These Vanda are still here from last year and they have grown into a remarkable screen on one of the internal walls.

Back to the Alpine House to shelter from the last trails of floating mist and to enjoy this magnificent pot of Scilla maderensis. I had wondered how this differed from S. peruviana and this demonstrates the difference in a way that will be difficult to forget (and I have a special talent for forgetting).

Massonia pustulata is a strange South African bulb. When young they have small bulbs and produce pairs of small leaves with small clusters of flowers. As the bulbs grow so do the leaves and the flower clusters. I think they have a curious charm.
Gloria, on the other hand, sees them with the myopic gaze of a photographer. She says that they look like the indent in the sand pressed by a pair of naked buttocks. I'm not sure how she knows about such things and I'm not going to ask. I can see the gleeful look in her eye while she waits for me to be outraged. I am a little too full of goose to oblige.
She now judges the age of the bulb buy the mass of the body. To her eyes, this is a fourteen stone imprint.

Mandragora autumnalis in full bloom. A little late for autumn, but only a fool argues with a mandrake.
We retire, birthday celebrated and resented in the proper way.

If you have any comments you can e-mail me:

(Change at to the more conventional @ symbol!)