Friday, 23 April 2010
Springwatch II: psychic garden
Which is what we whimsically call the Chelsea Physic Garden. It's one of those places, like the Freud Museum where I was an 'educator' so many years ago, where no matter how frazzled and stressed you might be when you enter, you usually leave walking on air. So it was for the rather diverse bunch of folk we gathered together for lunch at the haphazard but lovable, top-notch Tangerine Dream Cafe, outside which we roasted unprotected from the strong sunshine.
Spring has certainly burst in the Physic Garden even since I visited earlier last week. For a start, the pitcher plant sprout turned out to be a flower, not one of the carnivore's scary flytraps
while the pond and the beds are much advanced. With the late spring, stuff that's normally over by now coexists with some early arrivals, like the first peony.
I noticed for the first time, in the south-east corner, a tree the Chinese love because they believe its fruits attract the phoenix: a Paulownia, sub-categorised I believe as 'lilacensis' for obvious reasons.
Heading back to the cafe after a stroll, I found our friends Cal and Ching deep in conversation with a stylishly dressed lady who'd taken a place at the table. She was local writer Shelley Vaughan Williams, and I have to say I was a little sceptical about the poetry she bore with her in book and manuscript form. Then I opened this volume and found her attempts to express the ineffable remarkably clear and unsentimental.
SVW, widow of a relative of the composer, seems to have been through a great deal: unable to move or speak for a year after a brain aneurism, she now seems restored to health even if her memory fails her, she said, and she's probably more pass-remarkable than she would have been before. Cal thought she might try and use her publishing skills to promote the manuscript. Here's a nice shot of them together.