Beau­ti­ful ed­i­bles Plants to en­joy – and eat. Plus, fa­ther and daugh­ter on Plot 29

My daugh­ter’s gar­den brings joy all year round, says Al­lan Jenk­ins

The Observer Magazine - - News - Al­lan Jenk­ins’s Plot 29 (4th Es­tate, £9.99) is out now. Or­der it for £8.49 from guardian­book­

My daugh­ter Kala has been in my life since I was 19. We are still (of course) close. Kala lives four doors from me in Lon­don’s Ken­tish Town. I look over to her home from mine.

We al­ways sow her an­nual gar­den around her birth­day in May. And what a year it’s been. Self-seed­ing pop­pies burst­ing through her pa­tio. Ex­trav­a­gant ori­en­tal flow­ers a me­tre tall. Nas­tur­tiums have swamped the space. Kala’s been rip­ping them out by the arm­load in a mostly failed at­tempt to stop them con­quer­ing the wall.

Our nigella seed did well this year, a first sow­ing for us, lots of blooms in del­i­cate blues. There is al­ways titho­nia (Mex­i­can sun­flower), sown this year from seed she saved. I watch from my win­dow for its iri­des­cent orange. Sweet peas were also a first, throw­ing up dozens of scented flow­ers in the corner, though Kala is a bit con­cerned about pick­ing them be­cause of the spiders that also live there.

There is cal­en­dula, of course. ‘Flash­back’ here in soft, rusted tones.

She is shar­ing seed from these with her friends. Tow­er­ing wild, weedy lamb’s quar­ters smoth­ers her shed. Proud yel­low sun­flow­ers reach for the sky. Beau­ti­ful golden ama­ranth heads adds more ex­oti­cism.

I love to hear Kala hand-mow her lawn. Her kids more re­luc­tantly wa­ter but al­ways wave. It makes me wildly happy to see them there. Her daugh­ter Leah sits lan­guidly on the stairs and sun­bathes, Dy­lan is of­ten lost in his head­phones. There have been lots of lunches and din­ners eaten out­side. I of­ten stop by for tea and weed­ing.

Some­times I al­most envy her flower gar­den un­til I see her joy in wan­der­ing around, dead­head­ing, sav­ing seed. Kala is a gifted gar­dener. She makes me very proud.

A hand­ful of posies: Kala’s colour­ful titho­nia, sweet peas and sun­flow­ers

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