[ Photo Blog #43 ]
SIDMOUTH and John Betjeman
I supplement my photographic gallery post of Sidmouth a week ago with a further collection of photographs of this’ jewel of England’s Jurassic Coast’. The town was beloved of our 20th Century poet laureate (1972-84), John Betjeman. He wrote a poem as the sound track to a 1962 television film on the town. In the poem, called ‘Still Sidmouth’, he says of the town :
‘Gothic or Classic, terrace or hotel,
Here does the backbone of old England dwell.’
On my own recent visit there I made a point of looking for what Betjeman describes in his poem as the ‘bright and outsize Devon flowers’ in Sidmouth’s Connaught Gardens.
‘Pause on Peak Hill, look eastward to the town,
Then to the Connaught Gardens wander down
And in the shelter of its tropic bowers,
I see its bright and outsize Devon flowers.’
As befits the Jungle theme of just one part of these gardens, most plants here originate from the Far East. There is a fascinating bamboo collection, but what, in particular, caught my eye was this exotic plant which reached up tall into the sky and leant at an angle over the pathway. So far I have been unable to pin down it’s name. There is a lot of information about these gardens on the internet and on the plants it contains, but nothing I can find which matches the description of this tall, broad-stemmed creature. It has a myriad of small blue and mauve periwinkle-like flowers encircling the massive central stems, which, at the time I photographed them, were covered in honey bees.
The following four photographs give a better idea of its exotic character . . .
Below I include 4 more of my photographs of Sidmouth flowers, wild ones this time, which John Betjeman would have seen and loved . . .