Spring, 2011

I've still got a few posts to finish on Syria and Jordan, but with summer on the way I've been thinking about what a magical spring we have had this year. In addition to the Middle East we've been in New York, London, Dublin and California, catching the bursts of beauty as we travelled. 
Park Avenue, this may be the most beautiful median strip in the world!

As you know, the weather in England can be sooooo variable, it reminds me of that old saying, "When she was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was horrid!" People ask, when should I go, will it be fine in  August? Well it depends on whether it's going to be a wet summer or not, but unfortunately no one can help you predict this.   Over the past few years we have enjoyed, and I use the term loosely, holidays coinciding with the coldest December on record (why did we take a detour to Estonia to see the snow, it was inescapable in Cambridge) and the wettest August in memory! 
I couldn't identify these fabulous blooms in Beirut
The wettest August on record remains fixed in our memories because we had rented a convertible, and spent two weeks admiring English gardens in the rain. All I can tell you is that they were very green. To survive, we relied on a steady supply of tea and cakes as a small consolation at each National Trust property we visited

Early April in Hyde Park, 2011
Despite the inevitable climatic variability in the UK, you can often rely on a week or more of wonderful weather sometime in the spring. Sometime is a vague concept and you cannot arrange a holiday around it. It could be fabulous at the end of March or you may find a late Easter brings the sun in April. Again no one can help you predict it, although everyone will let you know how beautiful it was the year before. The English remember the good weather the way others remember their origin myths. We are still talking about the summer of 1977, the Queen's Silver Jubilee year and you can be sure that the spring of 2011 will be remembered.
Miraculously, this year our one good week of spring weather stretched on-and-on, bringing ostentatious displays of white British flesh into Hyde Park. Just as it seemed it would depart  for  The Wedding - you may have heard about it? The weather rallied and at the end of April produced glorious sunshine for another State occasion. Perhaps these royals know something we don't! 
Vertical garden on Park Lane, London
For once we were there for the good weather, if not the Royal wedding. In the early April sunshine I broke out my sandals and reveled in the blue sky and the sidewalk cafes. At the Victoria and Albert children paddled in the fountain, in the central courtyard, as we sat outside in the warmth.  It was glorious. So my advice to you, go to London for the good weather sometime in the spring, because "When she's good it's very very good" and when it's this good you forget she's horrid!
The Victoria and Albert courtyard
Late April in New York was spectacular, because everything looked at its best, even the median strip on Park Avenue was glamorous! 
A delicious dogwood in Manhattan
I can't resist another one 
The Upper East Side garden boxes, like the denizens of the neighborhood brownstones, are tightly wrought, immaculate and fashionably 'of the moment'. There are no dropping straddlers here, nothing is left to die or over winter. The bulbs are hastily ripped out before their time, thrown away and replaced by the next tasteful arrangement. Everything is always at it's best, it's beautiful but a little frightening.

After the manicured luxury of Park Avenue and Museum Mile we returned home to California, where the sun shines often. The garden was glorious, but unwieldy in it's overgrown and overblown spring splendor. In the moment before the land dries into our brown, dry summer,  the Bay Area spring offers the best display we'll get all year and it can hold its own with everything else we saw.
California poppies and roses compete in our garden, May 2011
I love plants that reseed, bring on the volunteers!
I don't have pictures, but believe me the Merrian Square tulips  in Dublin were fabulous too!


Belletje said…
English weather sounds just like us in Vancouver! Your photos are lovely. Hope to see some of Dublin soon1
Tina R said…
White, british flesh. You made my day.....And a shoutout to your garden. Looks fairytale-beautiful.

Kind regards from Copenhagen.
Thanks so much for the comments. Unfortunately I didn't take any pictures in this trip to Dublin, perhaps next time!
Anna said…
What lovely photographs of your front garden! I adore that kind of wild horticultural chaos!