Isn’t it strange that often it’s the briefest encounter one has with another human that has the most lasting impact? During my years as a mineral economist in the City, I was lucky enough to live close to Regents Park and I loved to spend time there, usually walking through it every day. The fact that I could walk to and from work via the park greatly enhanced my job satisfaction and my quality of life and over the years, I explored every nook and cranny.
In spring, the army of no less than 400 gardeners working in the Park did a fantastic display of all kinds of glorious annuals, but my favourite was the checker board of crocuses. Along a tree lined avenue, they constructed huge formal square beds in which they planted alternately yellow, white and purple crocuses. When in full bloom the riot of colour was breath taking and there was something about the almost military symmetry of the colour-coded beds that mesmerised me – every year, without fail.
So one spring, there I was standing in the middle of the avenue admiring the floral master piece when one of the gardeners ambled casually past me, stopped and then came to stand next to me. Neither of us said anything to each other but we both just gazed down the avenue in admiration. Then, without even looking at me, he said “and would you believe, the swans only eat the purple crocuses” and without even waiting for me to respond, he just ambled off. And that was the end of the interaction between me (at a loss for words, a rare occurrence) and the obviously very knowledgeable Regents Park gardener. But it was a fleeting moment of wonderful, understated companionship that I will never forget. Now, living in Devon, it has been many years since I visited Regents Park. But that doesn’t stop me from smiling whenever I spot a purple crocus.