Remove spent flowers throughout the flowering season and cut the plant right back in late autumn. Keep an eye out for slugs and snails. Coreopsis are perennials and will withstand frost but may die back after a few years. They’re easy to divide in spring so you can increase your stock of plants.
As a diplomat’s daughter, my mother travelled all over the world. She had never settled in one place before marrying my father and had no longterm or childhood friends. She even went so far as to say ‘best friends don’t exist’ — and that ‘we should just have friends’.
I had a best friend, a friend I loved spending time with more than anyone else. We met aged 11 when we went to secondary school in London and realised straight away that we had parts of our identities in common. Emily was half-Spanish and longed for the holidays when she’d go back to the sunshine and free way of life in Spain, where her father still lived. I’m half-French and also went away to see family in France in the holidays. Her father, like mine, was an unusual character with both a troubled and a brilliant side and — also like mine — rather absent. Despite these connections, Emily and I were very different. She was loud, confident, fun-loving, superficial in a way, a bit lazy and reckless. I was the quiet one, the ‘deep’ one, the clever one. But we were both very naughty, especially when we got together.
We were inseparable as we grew into our teens, from playing card games on the floor betting with Tooty Frooties, to smoking at the back of the bus, to meeting unsuitable boys at seedy clubs. But it was hard growing older and realising that our differences were present and real. She wasn’t interested in books, whereas I was obsessed with them and didn’t mind talking to the geeks at school as well as the cool gang. I thought some of her new friends were stupid, and she thought some of my ideas and my occasional seriousness boring.
She was the natural optimist and she filled my life, and my way of looking at the world, with a kind of exuberance and laughter I’d never experienced before. We argued sometimes passionately about which gang we were in. But we always stuck together despite the politics of teenage friendships. We used to talk about our future lives way into the night and the memories of those half-lit chats still give me a burning sense of how powerful and giving true friendship is. Its sense of promise is so great, as is that special feeling of hope found in mutual trust. This is particularly the case in those teenage years, when life seems to roll out endlessly in front of you and you