Kew Gardens. 31.10.14

We arrive at Kew having stayed overnight with kind friends in the country. The garden has slipped into autumn and is filled with screeching parrakeets and honking geese. Gloria has a look in her eye as though she would chase them. The decades fall from her and she steps forward. At that point the decades fall back onto her with crushing determination and we are grateful for the seat and check nervously that neither of us are remembered on the brass plate screwed to the back rest. We are not mentioned, and relax.

The alpine house stands above the rock garden like an old lantern. We are not quite sure about it. It has fine lines and it is elegant in a modern way, but it is very grey. The concrete drags the high alpines down to ground level.
Gloria occasionally has groceries delivered by a man from the supermarket and always comes to the same conclusion. Not quite right.

Gloria has been enjoying photographing plants in the greenhouse with the low autumn sun shining through them. Guaranthe bowringiana is better known as a Cattleya but it is time to move on. This is the blue form, G. b. var. coerulea and though it isn't blue, it is wonderful.

On the subject of orchids, Coelogyne pulverula makes a wonderful display. Gloria loves capturing abstract patterns produced by plants. She is happiest when they lose all character and identity but on the path to pure abstraction she produces some striking images.

All modern gardens seem to want to grasp the nettle of education and hold it aloft like a trophy. It is so ... universal.
I sometimes wonder how many people it takes to come up with the stream of ideas to engage and entertain us. Kew are marking halloween with a display of hallucinogenic plants. I'm not sure about the role of the cages. To stop people eating the plants or to suggest the surreal logic of hallucination.
Whatever the reason, this is cannabis in a cage.

One thinks of cacti as short fat things that are attractive to sickly children and people with emotional problems, but this Echinopsis thelogona is a strange thing. It snakes across the ground, rooting as it goes and eventually the base of the stem dies and it wanders about (very slowly). It is said that they grow towards the south and in habitat they all creep along slowly towards the sun. It would be an interesting thing to see. In Kew they are a little more confused and seem to be wandering around making chit-chat like a slow cocktail party. A very very slow cocktail party.

This is the time for Nerine and it was wonderful to see this great clump of N. undulata. I have often felt it would do well outside but this is the first time I have seen it fulfil that promise. Gloria had lost her fondness for bulbs until she discovered raised beds and realised that she had really lost her fondness for bending over. This, unfortunately, was something of a half-way-house, neither tall enough to photograph nor short enough to stand on (which is her standard response to Crocus and such like).

As we left we were struck by the only strong glowing colour we have seen among the autumn trees. I know Cotinus obovatus as a short shrub of no particular merit so this tree was a magnificent re-education. It was surrounded by a ring of zombies clutching tablet computers and making strange swiping movements at the screen. We have not yet joined the technological undead though we may be a little unsteady on our feet from time to time. One stiff gust and we would be lying on our backs covered in falling golden leaves.I look at Gloria and the soft grass and wonder if a swift push would do it. I catch her eye and know she has considered it as well.
I am fond of her, though I can't imagine why.

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