Back to London, Monday August 27th. Bank Holiday. After the morning of moving hens with Mum and Dad, avoiding feeling the approaching separation, the enormous connection; trim hooves with R, one last look at the garden behind Grange Cottage, J and I share a train; he standing most of the journey, from Stafford to Reading to Paddington, his gentlemanly ways ceaseless, hoisting my wheelie luggage over the stairs from platform to platform. We say goodbye at the District Line as he goes to Wimbledon and I, South Kensington. Once again my feet take me where I need to go practically unbidden. The District Line still in my bones after 30 some years. I realize I love London. A woodsy hermit at home in the metropolis.
Find my accommodation at Imperial College. Super location found on a whim. Next to the Royal Albert Hall, across from the Royal Academy of Music. I get to imagine R there playing her oboe as a student. I am ecstatic anticipating spending all the next day at Kew alone.
Tuesday arrives, a small group of farmers selling vegetables by the library at Imperial College. Gorgeous tomatoes, aubergine, cucumbers all the way from the West Country. An early underground train to Kew Gardens. I tick off, in my memory, the tube stops as we rattle along. I used to live a mile from Victoria Gate, come to the garden with friends, but before I knew I was actually a gardener. Arrive Kew station; over the stairs into the adorable leafy street with the bookshop, the organic grocer and the cafe selling cake. “We have cake!”. Down the street to the gate and in I go.
A whole day, 10 hours of garden delight as I’ve not had in years. The plants, endless avenues of horticultural joy. The species beds. The salvia border. The great broad walk borders. The oak trees. The restored Temperate House. The Mediterranean Garden; the families and kids, the shop, the tea, the ice cream, the time to just sit, listen, be. I wanted to move there, work there, like anything. I always have.
As I was practically lying on the ground photographing the salvias I overheard the docent talking about Salvia ‘Mulberry Jam’. Amazing to be 5000 miles away from Betsy Clebsch’s garden and listening to her selection being mentioned and growing right in front of me; she was one of my early horticultural heroes. That part of gardening and plant love always gives me a thrill. Even more I can’t wait until assembling together with so many other plant people in Essex in one and a half day’s time.
Here photos to share.