Found an unexpected treasure today- a small carpet of tiny sweet violets on top of our garden wall. This is a new thing – had not spotted them in such quantity before. We are blessed with a garden wall of unusual size and make, it being a modern stand-in for part of the old city wall. Our garden used to be part of an inner-city cloister, peopled by nuns until the reformation in the 16th century. The good burghers of Zaltbommel knocked back the Spaniards from behind the wall in those days, and had to surrender to the French a century or so later.

The only war in recent times where the wall played a part was the heated argument about just how it should be restored. The modernist won, so the wall now has a 13nd century foot and a 21th century body – nice! The modern part is made out of old bricks and rubble contained in steel mesh, it has the contour and volume of the real thing. I have – up until now- resisted all temptation to garden in its nooks and crannies, for I wanted to see what plants would colonise it if I left things well alone. I do keep watch thoug, and remove anything with the ambition to become a tree plus the brambles and nettles that would swallow the bricks alive. The violet carpet was my reward: sweet smelling and about 1 x 1 meter. Nice!