I like Chelsea. I’ve been going there every day since Christmas, to the English Gardening School at the Chelsea Physic Garden. A diploma in garden design (it’s finished now…have I mentioned that I got the prizes for top student and for garden writing? Well. I did). It was cold when we started. January. You’d think there’d be not much in bloom but the garden was filled with scent. Sarcococca confusa and S. hookeriana, Viburnum x bodnantense, Daphne bholua quietly infusing still air.

There’s so much to write about but what struck me was that every day I’d pass the local school on my way back to the Tube and, without fail, every day some huge unnecessary beast of a car left badly parked on double yellow lines by an impossibly thin woman with a bad temper would block my way or try to end my life.  (I make sweeping generalisations about people, I know I do, but it’s based on observation….and a bit of imagination.) And on most days school children in long caterpillars would press their noses up against the glass of the Cactus House at the Physic Garden, wide eyed and full of questions.


Pull it tighter



Push it higher



Make it thinner richer

Work it

Hide it behind dark glasses

Behind long shining hair

Behind cashmere rippled with richness

Push it into big cars

No scratches

The yellow lines don’t apply

Shout at it for not doing better

For losing his place

For crying

Lock the door

Look at the cactus

Fat engorged glaucous blue

Eye level

Wide eyed

Small boy, finger out to touch

Out to touch the city from the fifteenth floor

Pink misted London

Spider crawling on his hand

Over cuff and back onto wood

Catch up come on

Pick up the leaves

Breath white plumes of dragon breath

Into that scented air



Filed under gardens, poems, poetry

4 responses to “Chelsea

  1. Hey, I KNEW, you would be a star pupil at the gardening, really really great. You have way too much talent for one person. Not fair. So there.

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