Columbia Road Market 33
The first weekend in May traditionally produces the most profitable Sunday’s trading in the entire year for the plant sellers of Columbia Rd. In spite of this morning’s cheery shouts – from the trader wishfully singing,“Rain before seven, dry before eleven,” – it was obvious they were all dismayed by the downpour that drove their customers away. I was there early among the hardy souls that could not keep away and our fortitude was rewarded by the astounding display of plants just waiting to be carried off the to fill the gardens of East London.
Incongruously, I was searching for some flowers to enhance a dry border against a sunny wall in my garden and I found these three plants which complement each other beautifully. The white flower is a hardy alpine variety of Phlox that grows low to ground and cost me £4. It has the softest grey-green leaves and the sharp white flowers have tiny purple rosettes at the heart. The blue flower is Lithodora, another hardy alpine variety with gentian-like flowers in finely differentiated tones of blue, for £5. These are both contrasted nicely with this tricolore Sage for £3, one of my favourite herbs, to be savoured for its subtly variegated red, green and white leaves as well as its culinary potential.