Fruits of the Drumlin

It’s blackberry-picking time again on the drumlin.

blackberries on wood

Fields on drumlins tend to be small, and separated by hedgerows, which means that September brings free berries for anyone prepared to brave the dangers of nettle stings, red stained-fingers, and skin pricked by bramble thorns.  Here are some of the berries I picked last week.

blackberries in blue bowl on grass

Here’s something much gentler, harvested without pain – sweet pea in my aunt and uncle’s garden, still fragrant and beautiful even on a rainy day.

Sweet pea after rain




Belfast Rose Week

More roses today.  About a month after London’s roses peaked (and starred in this post), I headed 500km northwest of London to Belfast, where summer comes later, and Rose Week is celebrated in July.

white rose in belfast

Local councils are responsible for some of the most mundane aspects of our lives, but sometimes they get to take credit for something lovely – like Rose Week.   Belfast’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Nichola Mallon, unveiled a plaque this morning, marking the 50th anniversary of the Rose Garden and the founding of the Rose Society of Northern Ireland.

Rose Garden plaque

Some of the roses in the garden are in competition, with international judges.  For the domestic judges, i.e. me and my Mum, the winner was this red and white one.

red & white rose in blefast

Rose Week runs until Sunday 27 July, with all kinds of events for families – click here for details.  The gardens and surrounding parkland are open all year round of course, even after the roses have faded.

Rose Week Banner

Roses in Regent’s Park

June is rose season in Regent’s Park.  In India we had roses in our garden all year round  (click here for my photo from January 2013)  but in England we have to wait until June.

Queen Mary's Garden (yellow roses)

To find these roses, head into the middle of Regent’s Park to Queen Mary’s Garden (named after the wife of King George the Fifth).

The garden has been open to the general public since 1932.  The first superintendent planted roses; more have been added over the years; and the garden now contains approximately 12,000 roses.

There are benches to sit on while you admire the colours and scents and, if you are a serious gardener, read the signs displaying the names of the varieties.   I only got as far as noting that the white rose was “Silver Anniversary” and the yellow roses near the gate were “PHAB Gold”…but they are all fab.

Red roses

Container Gardening in Marylebone

The only way to keep a garden in central London thriving in summer is to use containers, and pray for rain.  My expat life never really allowed my neglected plants to thrive in Marylebone.  So here are some photos of windowboxes and tubs that have been nurtured more carefully by local gardeners.

window boxes (cropped)

Keep it simple, bright and sophisticated, and you will meet the Marylebone standard.

And beware of plants that want to take over the world.

ivy covered wall in a marylebone mews


Winter in London

If you followed this blog last year, you probably saw the posts about Spring, Summer and Autumn in London.  To complete the set, here are some photos of Winter in London.

The flowers from those other seasonal posts have gone.  Regent’s Park in January is a bleaker place of muddy football pitches, bare branches, and pruned rosebushes.

bare twigs

But there are signs of life.  The first flower to bloom at this time of year is the snowdrop, and I found a few in a quiet, untrampled spot near the Royal College of Physicians.


Meanwhile, inside the park, the grey squirrels were looking for food…

grey squirrel on tree

…and getting fat when they found it.

grey squirrel eating

Christmas Flowers at Columbia Road

I spent yesterday morning on the eastern side of London, in Shoreditch and Spitalfields.

Columbia Road sign

I was buying flowers for Christmas at Columbia Road Flower Market.

Lilies Ilex

Both sides of Columbia Road were lined with stalls selling Christmas trees, ilex berries, eucalyptus, pussy willow, holly wreaths and poinsettia.

ilex roses

I started small with some holly.


Then I bought a bunch of mistletoe for £1, from a man who told me it would bring good luck, as long as I didn’t let it touch the ground.  He also warned me that witches might be out in the solstice sunshine…


This is not a witch-catching machine.  It wraps Christmas trees for easier transportation.

Wrapping the Christmas tree

Christmas trees wrapped

I had no car, so I resisted the temptation to buy a tree, but I still ended up with armfuls of flowers. So can London’s markets compete with India’s?  What do you think?

Dussehra – the Prequel

What do you do with a sackful of flowers in Bangalore this week?  Celebrate the festival of Dussehra (also called Dasara).

tumbling flowers

At this festival people honour the tools that they use in your home or at work. Anything from a sewing machine to a tractor to a laptop, even a camera.

My photos of last year’s Dussehra appear in a series of three blogposts, starting here.

This year, our driver is planning a puja for the vehicles on Friday, so I don’t have photos of our own ceremony yet.   Instead, here are the supplies that you need for the puja, on sale from roadside vendors on Whitefield Main Road.

If you are doing a puja for the car, you need banana leaves to decorate the front of the vehicle.

banana leaves

Then you need offerings of fruit and leaves.


leaves for puja

And pumpkins to be smashed.


This ceremony means a lot to our Hindu driver; and to me it is a symbol of the anniversary of my husband’s job in Bangalore, and of our driver working for us.

Roses and Jasmine

Thursday 15 August is Independence Day in India.  I am back in the UK for a holiday, so I can’t show you anything of the celebrations in Bangalore or of the Lalbagh Flower Show.  Instead, here is a much more low-key post, of some flowers which I photographed in Varthur a couple of weeks ago.

I often see loose flowers for sale, in shops like this, or from roadside vendors, to be made into garlands for women’s hair, or for religious offerings.  One stall in Varthur was selling roses and jasmine.



They were also selling ready-made garlands.  I don’t think the ones with shiny paper are designed for temple offerings:  I think they are more likely to be used to welcome people.  Do my Indian readers agree?  Who would wear these garlands?


Happy Independence Day!  And if you still want to see the Indian flag, look at this post from last year.