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red-tailed bumblebee

Flowering Rhubarb

Saturday, 24th May 2003, West Yorkshire

rhubarb flowerRhubarb is such a commonplace of old allotments and it's still grown by the acre between Wakefield and Leeds yet there is definitely an exotic and stately quality about it. The frothy flowers and the swagger of the edges of the leaves remind me of Rembrandt pen and wash drawings: of lacy ruffs, rippling cloaks and slashed sleeves.

The plant looks as if it belongs in an elegant Chinese brush drawing.

It grows at here at the foot of the hedge so luxuriantly that it now blocks the path. It's time to cut it back, compost the leaves and turn the stems into a batch of rhubarb and ginger jam (we're not great pie eaters). I must cut that flowering stem back now because it will be drawing on the resources of the underground stem, from which next spring's growth will unfurl.

orange tipAn orange tip calls at three of the periwinkle blooms in the hedge. next page

Richard Bell