Thursday, 22 April 2010

I realise with a jolt this afternoon that I haven't been to Kew Gardens since last autumn, when I gathered a big bag of sweet chestnuts and hoped I wasn't depriving the squirrels.
And suddenly I felt the urge to go now, right this very minute.
So I jumped on a bus. And yes, it would have been much more sensible to have gone last week when there weren't any planes thrumming overhead. (Thank you, Iceland. We'd really like to do it again sometime. It was heavenly peace and quiet.)
But today the scent of lilac was wafting in the breeze.
And tulips were looking festive. And so were the green parrots.
And, despite the planes, I could still hear the bees buzzing in clouds of pink and white cherry blossom.
I stood underneath a magnolia that was tall as an oak. And an old lady told me that she nurtured a magnolia in her garden, tucking an old curtain over it every night in case it caught cold. But it still wasn't as magnificent as this one, she said.
I looked into one of its creamy, white blossoms. I remembered that one of Kew's policemen once told me a story. That one summer's day, a young man hid a diamond ring in an unfurled rose, intending to return later to propose to his girlfriend.
How romantic, I thought. But wouldn't you be so worried ... That you wouldn't find the right rosebush? Or that someone with secateurs might get there before you? Or that a magpie or a green parrot might have flown off with it?
The young man was shaken when he returned to Kew with his girl, to find that the gardens had closed for the evening. But he had a word in the policeman's ear.
And he let them in anyway.
I do hope they lived happily ever after. But occasionally, I look into a blossom ... and wonder if I'll ever discover the one with a diamond.

8 comments:

Cornflower said...

What a lovely story!

mary said...

He promised me it was true, Cornflower!

Ali said...

What a beautiful tale - I will think of it next time I peek into a flower.

Lucille said...

Oh dear yes, what a missed opportunity - Kew without planes. Dang!
Such a good story and one I've never heard before.

Laura [What I Like] said...

What an absolutely enchanting story! I long to be somewhere with air smelling of lilacs...a more romantic description of a place would be difficult to find.

kristina said...

What a romantic story. Sigh. And how I wish we could have Kew without planes all the time! K x

Vintage Reading said...

Oh a lovely story. Don't know if you've ever read Rebecca West's The Fountain Overflows, but there are some wonderful description of Kew Gardens in there.

mary said...

It's years since I read that, Nicola. I've just pulled it down from the shelf and remembered how much I enjoyed it. Also recall V Woolf writing about rhododendrons at Kew in her diaries. Love that jolt of recognition when you're reading and think, oh, I've been there!
Thanks to everyone for your comments ... and especially to Laura for stopping by from NY. I think you're my first American visitor!