Columbia Road Market 45
It was refreshing to walk through the early morning streets of Spitalfields in the gentle rain, which cleaned the air and the pavements, and brought out all the fragrances of the plants. I was the only customer at the market first thing and it was my privilege to have it to myself, with such breathtaking displays of colourful flowers solely for my pleasure at that time. There was a relaxed atmosphere, induced by the balmy temperatures and the arrival of the holiday season, which meant a few spaces in the market where traders had gone away, and also several sons and daughters helping out their parents on their stalls, getting inducted into the trade.
In spite of all the flowers, it was the fragrance of Sylvia’s herb stall at the corner of Ezra St that caught my attention with its delicate herbal scents released by the moisture. And upon a whim I bought these two purple herbs for just £3 the pair, a Purple Basil (Ocimum basilicum purpurascens) and a Purple Sage (Salvia officinalis purpurascens). Just brushing my finger over the leaves, sprinkled with soft rain, was sufficient to release their irresistible scents. The aesthetic of these purple herbs is exquisite, enough to convince me that they taste even more vivid than their green counterparts.
The Purple Basil will make a tasty and colourful addition to the green salads that are my staple diet at this season of the year, while I shall plant the Sage in a dry border next to a Heuchera and a Geranium with purple leaves, to add to a subtly contrasted purple patch that I am developing in a corner of my garden.