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– Preface (2020) –

create what we like, not what we think we ought to like.

How do I know what I like? Well, maybe I have a track record of liking it. I no longer possess the garden that gave rise to all these bright assertions – I left it a decade ago to live in New York. But over the last few weeks of the pandemic, I find that I have been taking an interest in my neglected urban plot. I’ve been planting nasturtiums in the window boxes and pots. I can open the windows and water many of the plants from indoors. Otherwise I must don my mask and venture forth.

I’ve finally, this year, decided to copy the display I mention in this book, at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, of trailing nasturtiums pouring out of window-boxes. And as a side order, I have the variegated nasturtium ‘Alaska’. What amused and delighted me twenty years ago was the simplicity of recommending nasturtiums – seeds you could buy, in my childhood, in any village post office. Now, to my surprise, I am ill-advised to step out into the street. I can’t, at the moment, go to the farmers’ market to buy plants. But I do have these very promising seeds.

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