Never let it be said that I have a love of sophisticated, trendy plants. One of my favourite plants is candytuft, simply because it grew in our garden when I was a child – I may even have sown some myself back then. I’ve certainly grown it in the garden here, where it self-seeded for a few years, but has now petered out. I must remedy that. I also rather like that common old white sweet alyssum. This dates back to spending a lot of time on my tummy in the front garden watching ants and other creep-crawlies. When your nose is but a few centimetres from the floor, the scent is overwhelming.
Even better than these two plants, though, were snapdragons. These were interactive flowers – pick a flower and squeeze, for growling, biting action. You could then dismantle the flower, to investigate its white throat, the golden lower lipstick, furry inner beard and pollen-coated anthers.
When you were finally bored of that, you could study the bees squeezing into the flowers and then reversing out, with their body dusted with pollen.
Proust might have had his fancy biscuits (mine’s a malted milk, if you’re offering), but to take me back to childhood, just give me a 1970s garden to explore (though it was thankfully heather-free).
I always used to think that snapdragons were annuals. That’s how they’re marketed, I suppose because they’re not reliably perennial in the UK. The dragon below, however, is now in its fourth summer, having endured two very bad winters and this year’s tolerable winter. It has also endured neglect, apart from the occasional dead-heading.
And now, this dragon has bred – the dragonlings are a mixed bunch, and I have to say that the pure yellow one is probably living on borrowed time as its colour is a slap in the face in that particular area, but I’m very fond of my unexpected dragonlings, so it may just be moved.
Hurrah for childish delights and unexpected perennials :-)