White passionflower (c) Kristen Bailey 2009
Just down the road from me is a house which has a passionflower vine growing over its garden fence. Since spring I've been watching it develop with great anticipation - I love passionflowers, can't believe that something so exotic-looking grows in UK - and taking photos week by week.
Yesterday I was there again, taking a close-up of the fruit forming, when a lady came down the street and saw me as she went in through her gate. I explained, blushing, that I'd been keeping an eye on her passionflower vine, and she told me she also had a white passionflower and asked me if I'd like to see the rest of her garden!
There was so much going on I hardly knew where to look first! At the far end of the garden were several beehives - only one was being used but there were bees everywhere, getting on with the day's business. There was also a glass cloche (above) stacked with old honeycombs, to drain off the beeswax, which will be used to make candles!
To the righthand side of the garden were dozens of 7ft-high evening primrose plants which Jennifer said she'd left to do their own thing. She told me that she and her late husband used to make a 8pm date to come out to the garden and watch the flowers open.
Around the garden's edges were at least a dozen water butts and a few young trees. There was a pond with frogs in, and she showed me the two drains where toads live - sadly not at home at the time!
We went round the garden with me taking photos and asking the names of things I didn't know - she knew all the Latin names and had a story to tell about how she'd come by each plant. She tore a seed pod off an honesty plant and tore it open to show me its three layers, and how the inside had a glossy sheen - crushing it in her fist and brushing the dust away just as I opened my mouth to ask if I could keep it (I was too shy to ask for another)!
I can't remember the name of this elegant pink bloom but it stuck in my mind because Jennifer said it reminded her of her mother's dresses. It's so delicate and beautiful, I really love the ways the buds look like 'lucky' origami stars.
It was so lovely to be discover this half-wild garden in such a densely-populated area. Jennifer does a lot of work - there were potted seedlings stacked everywhere - but if something has thrived where it was planted (or has self-seeded) she likes to give it free rein.
She's told me to knock on the door anytime I'm passing and fancy another look - it will be wonderful to see how it changes through the coming seasons. And I only went out for a pint of milk!
All images in this post (c) Kristen Bailey 2009
* SONG OF THE DAY: Donovan - Jennifer Juniper *