Notes from West London

Cherry blossom and wisteria

For many years I have described myself as “plant-blind”. Apart from a few very obvious exceptions, like daffodils and monkey-puzzle trees, I do not recognize the majority of plant species. If a tree has actual fruit on it (like plums, apples or pears) I can identify it, but when the fruit has all gone it’s just a tree. I have tried to address this. We have had membership of Kew Gardens for many years and I have repeatedly studied the names of trees and other plants while walking around, but not much has stuck in my mind. With the help of the seasons I can distinguish some of the things that grow round here. We are in wisteria season right now. Walking by the river yesterday I pointed out the flowering wisteria plants to my son. I repeated the name often enough for him to get it, and make the association. I only learnt the word in my 30s so he’s ahead of me on this one.

Back in March I pointed out the local clusters of daffodils to him and his sister. Last month it was the cherry blossom. There is a famous road not far from here (famous in local terms at least) called Staveley Road. In April it is an avenue of cherry blossom. Reportedly the Queen Mother was driven down it every year to admire the blooms. My own mother told me that. When she died in 1997 (five years before the Queen Mum) the funeral cars took us down the length of Staveley Road en route to the graveyard. The cherry blossoms looked magnificent. They never looked so good. This year we made a few trips to see them, including on her anniversary, but the blossom wasn’t a patch on 20 years ago, and by the end of April it was long gone. But the wisteria, flowering on houses all along the river, looks pretty good right now.

 

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