Wednesday, 1 July 2009


They were all yellow

Last year, there were virtually no flowers. This year, it's a yellow riot of colour (if there could be such a thing, as I always thought that riots of colour ought to comprise more than one hue. Maybe I'm wrong.) on the perennial shrubs outside the house. So I knew, even before these SERIOUSLY dog days kicked in, that we were in for a hot one. Hoo boy, was I right?

I am no horticulturist. Everything green (or yellow) I touch is destined for the scrap heap one way or another, but I do enjoy seeing (and occasionally sniffing) a good flower, so it has been a real pleasure to watch the bushes outside my house flourish so splendidly over the last couple of weeks, their efflorescence a defiant gesture towards the hard concrete, bus fumes and casual violence that serve as the leitmotiv of urban existence.

It has also intrigued me to see in action the basic biological drive of the living world, untroubled as it is by mortgage payments and England losing again.

If I may aspire to Attenborough-ness for a moment, the bushes produce smallish yellow flowers in great numbers, each one straining towards the light of the sun. They are short-lived blooms, which quickly turn to parchment before dropping off to allow others to take their place. Many insects frequent their bell ended stamens, for reasons good or ill, feasting on the meagre food within, or lurking in search of soft bodied prey.

In this strangely suspended wave of solar plenty, buoyed as we are by the ever-cheerful Andy Murray, there seems to be no end to their fecundity, with each rapidly fading petal set surrounded by four or five budding promises of unfurled jaundiced glory.

My mind wanders as I absent-mindedly pluck at the drying leaves, and I marvel at the seemingly endless stream of life bursting forth, straining its sinews to forward the future of the shrub, which is - in truth - a wholly unremarkable plant, whose name I do not even know. However, in these dangerous times of dire bee shortages, we must celebrate even the lowliest of pollinators, and encourage where we can their continued strength. Eros will win out.

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