In February’s flower diary, Misti gets frozen by the English winter, then thawed out by a tropical jungle of flowers. She also considers the primrose: anyone remember the Flower Fairies?…
Yesterday I saw that the famous green parakeets of south London have returned from their annual Iberian holiday full of song. Which means only one thing: spring is on its way. Personally I’m thrilled woolly jumper season is coming to a close. Soon near-daily sausage rolls will be a faint memory and slate grey skies will cease to be the norm.
I took a country walk through the Chilterns with my husband last weekend. Helena wanted to stay at home with Nanny who lets her eat brownies and generally does her bidding. Out in the fields there were snowdrops everywhere and in the woods daffodils were blooming. Bluebells and tulips won’t be far behind. The moment flowers spring to life again is one of my favourite perennial pleasures. All that promise lying dormant until one sunny day a shoot unfurls. It’s like watching stop animation.
When I first saw the golden forsythia Freddie’s included in one of their arrangements this month, I thought it looked rather like kindling. Then three days later, as if by magic, the branches were full of small butter-coloured flowers. Nature really can be magical.
Tucked in amongst the yellow roses, alstroemeria and lilies, things suddenly felt very tropical at home. What with the parakeets squawking outside, our little flat felt closer to Bengal than Brockley. So much so that Helena donned a makeshift pith helmet and told me she was going to hunt for a tiger in the flowers. Why? I asked. “Because it looks like a jungle.”
Her middle name is Primrose. Could that be why she likes flowers so much? Some names lend themselves to occupations. A. J. Splatt and D. Weedon are both doctors of urology. There’s an Israeli tennis player called Anna Smashanova, a Dutch architect called Rem Koolhaas and if you’re called Freddie Garland what else are you going to become but a florist?
Primrose Hill was the first place my husband took me to when I arrived in London from Los Angeles and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. Add this to the fact that I grew up loving Cicely Mary Barker’s book about flower fairies and there you have it. Helena has a print of her hanging above her bed and when she was tiny I used to tell her the Primrose Fairy was her patron saint.
But winter hasn’t given up the ghost quite yet. Snow started to fall as Helena and I made our way to the Royal Festival Hall for a puppet show about the Moomins. Despite the signs of spring it was still bitterly cold out in the country. Following a long walk, we feasted on roast beef and Bandol, and then snoozed by the fire back at my in-laws. There are some things I do love about English winter. Madeira cake tastes much nicer when your cheeks are rosy with cold.
On Valentine’s Day we returned home with muddy boots and an enormous crystal vase my mother-in-law gave to me that her mother-in-law had given to her. And thank goodness as against the door were new flowers from Freddie. Lucky me!
Misti Traya fell in love with an Englishman and moved from Los Angeles to London in 2009. After her daughter was born, she began a blog called Chagrinnamon Toast that won the writing category at the 2014 Young British Foodies. She was also named runner-up for the Shiva Naipaul Prize. She has written for Gawker, Jezebel, Look, Mslexia, The Pool, The Spectator, and Stella Magazine.