Posted by: cousindampier | 31 May 2014

The Way Home, Day 5

-Leamington Spa-

My introduction to Leamington Spa was to be informed that it is also known as ROYAL Leamington Spa, and this second one is the official name.  The Queen (I believe Victoria, as there is a statue to her in the center of town) once visited and enjoyed her stay so much, it became a Royal place.

But it is a lovely place to be.  The town seems small, and yet Wikipedia tells me it is nearly 50,000 people.  It is split in two by the River Leam, which makes the town seem smaller than it really is.  I am staying with my friend Davinia, who lives on the northern side of the river, a few blocks from a hairdresser, a pub, a Dominos, and about 450 luxury shops (all numbers estimated, of course).

But walking from the northern area she lives in, down across the river brings one to the Jephson Gardens.

Over the past three days, I’ve started to receive an education about the UK from Davinia.  So far, this education consists of learning the names of different kinds of flowers and that while the French may do food well, the English are proud of their Gardens.

And they should be.  Gardens, and gardening, is a part of the English identity.  In American terms, the Gardens here would simply be referred to as parks, but they are slightly different.  More thought goes into the layout of the Garden, because an essential part of any garden are the flowers planted in it.  While American parks may have wide spaces to play football, and often seem to be marked by evergreen trees, English Gardens are marked by walking paths and the different types of botany planted within.

And so a walk through the Jephson Gardens reveals twenty types of flowers I used to know only as “pretty,” including alliums, geraniums, lamb’s ear, and fox’s gloves.  It reveals a brown river whose waters eventually combine with the River Avon of Shakespeare fame.  It reveals a park bench which provides a decent place to chow down on pizza, and a tree stump dating back to Victorian times.  It contains a greenhouse (today used for a wedding) and several park benches to rest on, almost all of which are dedicated to grandfathers and grandmothers and uncles and aunts who once loved the garden and have since died.

And like all English gardens, a well-paved path winding through the green and purple, red and brown, used by dozens of people at any time to enjoy the atmosphere of the Garden.

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