Friday, May 23, 2008

Love at first begonia

Love at first sight can turn a girl's head. Your heart beats faster, you have eyes only for the object of your desire and any sensible thoughts (such as taking out your notebook to write things down, or finding some more batteries for your digital camera) fly out of the window.
I'm in love with a begonia. It's nothing like the multiflora begonias you get in window boxes or bedding displays, or those astonishing tuberous double begonias that look as if they're made of tissue paper. It's big and butch and gorgeous, with pale green leaves.
This is a jungly, macho type, the sort of begonia that knows how to talk to wine waiters, and can manage to hail a taxi in the pouring rain; the sort that can put shelves up and fix leaking taps. I saw it across the Great Pavilion at Chelsea and though I don't even know its name (in the excitement I forgot to take a note), I know we were Meant For Each Other.
Because I don't know its name, and didn't take a photograph, I can't show you my beloved. But I've ordered two from lovely David Rhodes of the Essex nursery Rhodes and Rockcliffe, and we have our first date when I pick them up from Chelsea tomorrow.
I know what you're thinking. I've fallen for a pretty face, with no thought for the future. Don't worry, this won't be a one-night stand. This begonia is hardy, but dies down in the winter, sending up new foliage each spring that can reach about a metre in one season. This is the real thing. This is love.
PS: Emma has taken pity on me and sent me her picture, so you can all see it. And its name is Begonia grandis, subsp sinensis.