For 12 years I taught at Stanford Lake College down the road. Only one of those years did the children not shiver in their skimpy clothes on Spring Day, when they dressed up in ‘civvies’. Guess what.  2013 followed the pattern.  After a balmy August and a mild winter, there was serious frost over the weekend.  And so the first azaleas got frosted.  And recovered…


I, meanwhile, have been busy busy busy for tomorrow the magazine goes to press and the day after the map we publish annually. I should not even be writing this right now. But jaded by work, I called the boys and the dogs and we went for a delightful walk amongst the blossoms and flowers. Blossoms featured here recently, and besides photos were not part of this walk..


But I taught the boys to smell the flowers, so they tend to rush up to a camellia, crush their noses into it, look disappointed and announce: ‘no smell!’ Most of the flowers at this time of the year, winter flowers, are scented, and they became our theme today.


In these photos we have two scented viburnums, one pink, one white. The white I should know but don’t now have the time to research, the pink is V. x bodnantiensis; both are rough, scraggly shrubs whose chief glory is their scented winter flowers. The dirty blue is our harbinger of heat, Buddleja salvifolia, an endemic shrubs which fills the air on warm days at this time of year with the  honey scent typical of buddleias from around the world.

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Meanwhile the exuberant boys decided when the phone-camera came out that it was time for funny faces… Oh.  And Taubie, my x Bull Terrier who was with me for 14 years last month, has refused the last four invitations to a walk. Today it was warm and sunny, and I could see she was tempted, but her ears drew back apologetically and she turned back at the front steps…  I read that my gardening friend Mark’s beautiful Fletcher dog now takes his walks in San Francisco  from the comfort of a wheelbarrow. Taubie would panic if I were to suggest that. SmileTwice a day now I thank her for coming into my life.



  1. I hope Taubie will hold off on wheelbarrow rides for quite a while longer. Fletcher only had rides the last three days. Before that it was only a question of how fast and how far, the answers were not very and not far. He had only stopped joining us for longer walks for less than a month before. In that same time, the menu was wide open since the lump in his lung and his faltering heart were beyond repair at a14 years of age. But in the last week no cut of meat would entice him to take another bite. Once he was off his food for good it wasn’t long before he was off his feet as well. But he still kept me company beside me on the couch right to the end.

    In his spot on the couch, next to me.

  2. I will remember shivering pathetically on Spring Day. This year we had Cameron’s first birthday party on the 31st of August – an outdoor picnic – and our poor guests were just about frosted too. In future we’ll plan his parties for the middle of August!

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