Saturday, March 24, 2012

Native flora

Agapanthus were everywhere in Los Angeles. They spring out from concrete planters in front of banks, the strips of lush green grass in Brentwood, flower beds in front of the Spanish style villas in the the Beverly flats, and even scrubby little rubble gardens in Malibu. For me they are the quintessential LA flower. I've no idea if they are native or not, but they certainly seem to do well over there.

I love agapanthus but had never managed to coax mine into flower in London. Seeing them on every sidewalk, stripmall and yard in LA, I never failed to exclaim 'I love agapanthus!', and then bored TLOML with the story of how mine had never flowered.

Not quite as prevalent, but just as quintessentially of the place they are in, are the magnolias of North London. Most streets in Dartmouth Park, Highgate and Hampstead have at least one magnolia tree proudly gracing someone's front garden. Many have two or more.

This time of year they are just gorgeous, laden creamy pale pink buds. As I bustle about my old manor, at least a couple of times I day, I exclaim 'I love magnolia'. If I'm on my own I say it silently, inside my head, by the way.
I had a nice chat with a man at the nice Zimbabwean-run garden centre in Kentish Town about the possibility of growing a magnolia tree in a tub. If I'm prepared to feed and water it (I am) it will be entirely possible for me to have my very own magnolia tree at Fox Corner, and take it with me when we leave in a couple of years time. I am almost more excited about this than the kiwi tree.
It's funny, but I can't think of a flower, tree or shrub from New York that had the same effect on me. Is it possible there is no such native New Yorker? Or is that just another example of my blindness to the charms of Manhattan? I may never know...

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