Dear Readers, today was a gloomy, drizzly day, and so I decided to go for a brisk walk around the County Roads in East Finchley, just to see what was going on. During the lockdown I’ve been mainly going to our two local woods, or to the cemetery, but I’ve missed the quirkiness of the tiny front gardens round about. I love how individual they are, and this year it feels to me as if they are even prettier than usual. To start with my garden, the lavender has just come into flower, but it isn’t warm enough for bees today. I notice that my buddleia also has flowers on it – they seem to be coming earlier and earlier every year.
And in many windows there are the rainbows and other drawings of children.
I notice, for the first time (well I have only lived here for ten years) that there are attractive terracotta plaques in the bay windows of some of the houses, and rather fine ‘things’ on the top of the gables as well. If anyone knows what the ‘things’ are called, do tell – I know they probably have some architectural name but goodness only knows what.
A male sparrow was feeding a younger one on one of the windowsills, which always gladdens my heart – these birds are so much rarer nowadays.
And on the subject of scent, the smell of this mock orange can be inhaled from several houses away.
I love how ‘bunny-rabbit flowers’ (antirrhinums) pop up unannounced every year. This one is a splendid deep pink.
And then the rain starts properly pouring down, so I take cover under a neighbouring street tree. I spot the most perfect rose blooming in the garden of the house next door.
The rain makes an abstract painting on the wall.
The bellflower is everywhere – it self-seeds into the tiniest cracks. There are two species, trailing bellflower (Campanula poscharskyana) from the Dinaric Alps in former Yugoslavia, and peach-leaved bellflower (Campanula persicifolia) from the Italian/Austrian Alps, and you can find both in North London. Both are garden escapes, but pretty and resilient nonetheless.
I am seeing lots of Mexican Fleabane, and I can see why people plant it – it’s long-flowering, trouble-free and (from my point of view) a magnet for hoverflies.
I love the clashing colours of the pelargoniums and the roses, they are so cheering to look at.
And how about these bear’s breeches? Otherwise known as acanthus, the plant adorns the capitol of many a Roman pillar.
I adore the tiled pathway of this house as it makes its way through the lavender to that sky-blue door.
Someone has pruned the false acacia, but it’s fighting back!
I love the juxtaposition of the golden leaves of the mock orange and the purple of the mallow here, but apologies for the raindrops on the lens. I was fighting a losing battle with the weather.
I thought the plant below was an evergreen clematis, but now I’m thinking evergreen jasmine, if there is any such thing. What do you think, Readers?
I love these blood-red hollyhocks against the whitewashed wall.
And this is the most magnificent magenta-pink mallow, next to a California lilac that’s just finished flowering. What a spectacular plant the mallow is, and something of a London speciality – it seems to love our claggy clay soil.
I have a great fondness for this lady’s ‘wild’ front garden. She popped out to tell me that the Mexican fleabane has sowed itself and I love the way that it has infiltrated the lavender. There is always something of interest here. I must stop by more often.
Further down the road I stop to take a photo of this perfect dandelion clock. I see lots of blackfly too – it has certainly been a great year for aphids, as I’ve mentioned before.
The front gardens outside these new-build flats are very small, but this one shows what can be done, with a lovely mixture of lavender, gaura, purple osteospurmum and Bowle’s mauve perennial wallflower.
And how about these fantastic red and black poppies!
Finally, as I turn for home I spot this front garden, with its mixture of foliage plants – there are various colours of heuchera here, plus a heavenly bamboo and a fern and several other interesting things. It goes to show that you don’t need to have full sun to grow something attractive and interesting.
Well, all things considered this was a most satisfying walk, and I only managed to do two and a half County Roads. Just when you think you’ve gotten to know your neighbourhood, a whole new set of interesting plants and gardens pop up. The lockdown is helping me to pay attention to the small things locally that I would otherwise miss, in my rush to head off to pastures new, and I think I’m all the better for it. I’m at a time of life when I’d rather dive deep than just skim the surface.