Friday 18 June 2010

Broadbeans and rhododendrons

After a couple of handfuls of rocket over the last few weeks and three or four asparagus spears, last night I picked the first decent crop of the year: my broadbeans (you can see the lovely flowers and how they looked last week)! They are still smallish, but enough to make a lovely pasta sauce.

I also harvested mint, sage and oregano as their flavour is best before flowering, and flower buds are just forming.

Pity it is impossible to reproduce the exhilarating bouquet of scents and the amazing variety of textures and shades of green.

While veg start cropping outside, inside the greenhouse something magical is underway.

A step back. I sort of like rhododendrons, pretty stunning colours if you manage to grow and keep them alive. Not generally overexcited about them though.

This spring, however, having a walk alongside a garden, I was struck by the most delicious sweet fragrance, which came from white rhododendron flowers, the slightest tinge of pink to the ample petals. Something possessed me and I wanted the plant, at all costs! If that is the instinct that drove botanist explorers to carry over plant specimens from any corner of the world I understand it: it was pretty powerful...

However, I would never consciously damage a plant, particularly someone else's. On some of the branches I could see a few remaining bunches of old, empty and dried seedpods. No harm done if I pick a couple, surely? I did it with very little hope. Their time was long gone.

Once home, a few husk-like flecks came out of the pods' folds. The flecks were minuscule, they could at best be underdeveloped leftovers from proper seeds. No image online of rhododendron's seeds to compare them to. Only very discouraging instructions on how to grow rhododendrons from seed.

Still under the spell of that plant's beauty, I decided to sow anyway.

One seedling came out. Minuscule. I thought weed but nurtured it anyway, just in case. More tiny, wormlike seedlings. Now I think that's the genuine article.

With a bit of luck, a few years down the line I will find out that one of them looks and smells like "mum".

-- Post From My iPhone

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