RDP Saturday: Verdant


Growing up in a town, London for example, verdancy did not even exist in my vocabulary. The only green things I would see might be bank notes, although my mum and dad did not have them long enough to realise the colour. Of course we had parks, where there were trees and even flowers like dandelions and buttercups and grass in between. I remember our teacher at school in the nature lesson, telling us to collect leaves from the trees so that we could identify them. We had to walk for half an hour, even take a bus to find a tree, but this was East London, home of the docks and factories. The trees were mainly so-called plane trees, which were quite toxic from the surrounding fumes of the traffic and smog.

Most of the verdant sites I saw as a kid were the remainders of the bombed houses and their gardens after the war. I was a kid of the fifties and London was still rebuilding, or at least thinking about it. The best playgrounds were those left by the air raids on London. They were pure adventures and the gardens ran wild around the piles of bricks or wall remainders, ivy and various creeping plants winding their paths into the crevices and spaces. Wild life was mainly rats living in the deserted cellars. Dangerous? No, not really. When your parents had been sleeping for five years in shelters in the garden for protection, they did not consider your playground as being dangerous. We were free from the threat of war, bombs and destruction: a cut on the knee was cured with a plaster on it. Scratches were signs of bravery. And bruises? They were the result of a stone fight with another bunch of kids and you were unlucky if a stone left a patch of destruction. It was even a token of bravery.

Castle Waldegg 25.05 (11)

My kids grew up in places like this in Switzerland, verdancy being everywhere. They loved their visits to see grandad and gran in London. They were the adventure holidays, in the smell of car exhausts and wet concrete on a rainy day: weaving through the streets and travelling on the subway. My grandchildren will be growing up in verdancy, in a country with no wars and no destruction. I hope they will appreciate it.


RDP Saturday: Verdant

12 thoughts on “RDP Saturday: Verdant

  1. This reminded me of growing up and visiting my grandparents in the ‘concrete city’ where they lived. It was a wild change from the greenery and suburbs I grew up in. But it was different and I loved it. Must be why, to this day, I still love walking the downtown of any city and breathing in the concrete and car exhaust.

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    • I spent the first 20 years of my life in London and got used to it, but somehow always had a longing to live in the country. I knew, and still know London very well. It is nice to go back and walk the old streets of my youth, but I am happy where I live now. If I want town I can go to Zürich or Bern, just about an hour away by train, but why should I.

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  2. I watched an old film from 1949 the other night called “Passport to Pimlico” (Stanley Holloway) and it looked pretty much as you described. In the late fifties I started out in Romford, not a particularly verdant spot but there were parks. I looked forwards to my visits to my grandparents in Clacton where I enjoyed the parks and flowers by the sea. I find Tasmania much greener than South Australia and enjoy seeing and trying to grow the sort of flowers I loved as a child. The Adelaide summers had become too hot and dry to even have a lawn without spending a fortune to water it.

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    • My uncles family lived in Romford. He was a docker and when they closed the London docks he spent the last few years to retirement working in Raphael Park in Romford.. we had a couple of parks in Bethnal Green, nur nothing in comparison to where I now live, I seem to live in a park and my neighbours are its population of birds

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  3. We moved from rural Yorkshire to London when I was five. Oddly, my early memories of being there include the green spaces provided by the bombsites. I was particularly struck by what I now know was buddleia. And like your children, I felt interested rather than deprived by my new surroundings.

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