28 Photos Later: Day 11 in London

It’s Day 11 of my “28 Photos Later” project.


Today’s photo is called “Paint your Chairs to Match your Geraniums”.

match your chairs to your geraniums

This lovely pink oasis has been created by the residents of a mews house in London W2, near Queensway.  I’m impressed at just how much they’ve managed to squeeze in to the space between their house and the double yellow parking lines on the street.


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


Rooftop Garden at John Lewis

A new garden opened in Marylebone this month, and this is how you get there.

John Lewis escalators

If that seems unlikely, bear with me: the garden is on the roof of a shop.  This year, the British retailer John Lewis celebrates its 150th anniversary, and the flagship store on Oxford Street has opened a roof garden.

John Lewis 150 anniversary sign

The planting is lovely, but the main attraction for me was getting away from the busy shop and out into the sunshine and fresh-ish London air.  Drinks are on sale at the rooftop kiosk, for savouring as you sink into the summery furniture.

joe&thejuice john lewis

John Lewis deckchair

To get to the roof garden, head for the cafe “The Place to Eat” on the 5th floor of John Lewis, and follow the signs.  There is also a new exhibition on the 3rd floor exploring 150 years of John Lewis.  There is no entrance fee, nor do you have to buy anything in the shop before you visit the rooftop garden or the exhibition, but if you prefer green space unconnected to shops, just walk round the back of John Lewis, and cross the street into Cavendish Square, where a garden is maintained by Westminster Council.

John Lewis shop paper bag display

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 – At Home

Our driver, Dayalan, celebrated the Hindu festival of Dussehra this week by performing a ritual for the vehicles and tools in our household, i.e. our car, my bicycle, the driver’s own motorcycle, and – for the first time – my camera.

Here are two photos of Dayalan performing the ritual. In the first he is holding a pumpkin. At the end of the ceremony he threw the pumpkin to the ground to break it in half, and then placed the two halves at the entrance to our driveway.

puja with pumpkin

In the second photo he is holding a coconut, which smashed beautifully at the end, more easily than the pumpkin. Can you see the banana leaves on the front of the car?  This year we used leaves from our own garden, instead of buying them.

puja with coconut

We have a beautiful garland of roses on the car now.

rose garland

Performing the ritual on Friday afternoon at 4.30pm served two purposes – it was an auspicious time, and it was late in the week, so the prices of flowers had dropped by 40 per cent.

flowers on front of car
We placed lemons under the wheels of the vehicles.  The final part of the ritual was driving over the lemons to smash them.  Almost impossible with my bicycle; tricky with the Suzuki motorbike; but dead easy with the big Toyota Fortuner.  Now we are ready for anything on the roads of Bangalore.

Related posts from 2012 and 2013:
2012 Dussehra – part 1 – the car

2012 Dussehra – part 2 my bike

2012 Dussehra – part 3 the offerings

2013 Dussehra – the Prequel

2013 Dussehra – On the Streets

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.