Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Sculptural Romanesco

There's a vegetable stall in a farm gateway on the outskirts of one of the fen-edge villages I often drive through, and this is my favourite place to shop for fresh local veg. The stall (a converted shed) has been closed for the summer (holidays and harvest time), but today it was open. For £5 I bought a bag of large red onions, a bag of parsnips, a huge bunch of extra long leeks, 3 giant sweetcorn and this - a beautiful Romanesco Broccoli or Summer Cauliflower. What a fantastic geometric sculpture of a vegetable!

I've just finished reading Seed to Seed: The Secret Life of Plants by Nicholas Harberd and as I drove home I began to think about the sequence of growth that must have created the Romanesco flower head. I'd picked the book up in a bookshop which had a "3 for 2" offer and needed another book to add to the latest "Number One Ladies' Detective Agency" story and a wartime romance for my mother; it looked intriguing and the blurb on the back had enthusiastic reviews by those respected gardeners Penelope Hobhouse and Anna Pavord. It's written as a diary over the course of one year and is an insight into the thoughts of a research scientist and his discoveries about how plants grow. Anna Pavord sums this up far better than I can:
'It's another world. Another language. But Harberd has the gift of connecting us with it . . . What Harberd's book gives us clueless amateurs is a huge sense of awe at the extraordinary and brilliant machinery that regulates plant growth'.


  1. Lovely photo. I am reading Seed to Seed, very slowly, to take it all in, as science is a foreign language to me. Some of it is poetic. I've been reading it aloud to my husband, and it is good to read out loud, which many books and much writing is not. I think it is wonderful, and it certainly gives you a whole new perspective on plants. As you say yourself when looking at the romanesco


  2. Hi Joanna - It's taken me all summer to read 'Seed to Seed' - there's so much to take in and think about.


  3. Romanesco broccoli is one of my favourite vegetables. Super fresh, it looks as stunning as it tastes.

    I might try growing them next year just for fun.

    The book sounds interesting too. Thanks.

  4. Wow that Romanesco broccoli looks pretty damned impressive! I bet my Mum would love one, perhaps something to put in her Christmas stocking?

  5. Hi CS - 'Seed to Seed' is well worth the read - the world looks different afterwards!

    Hi Lucy - Romanesco - almost too beautiful to cut up for dinner.

  6. Isn't nature wonderful? That Romanesco looks just like a microscopic virus under an electron microscope! endlessly fascinating.

  7. The photo of the broccoli is amazing ... I have never seen it here in the states. It's like a fabulous sculpture.

  8. To me the growing of the veggies is another world and another language...awe inspiring...yet, I can still enjoy the beauty (and this IS a beauty) and the taste. Thanks for another thoughtful post.

  9. That's beautiful! It seriously looks like a piece of Art.
    I got onto your blog while net-surfing, and I am fascinated already.

  10. Hi Becca - oh do keep looking, I bet someone's growing them!

    Hi Meg - I thought this veg perfectly illustrates the ideas in Nicholas Harberd's book - how nature is awesome.

    Hi Green Thumb - and welcome to my blog, I've just sneeked a look at you fabulous garden and exotic veggies.

  11. that is certainly one beautiful Romanesco! i have been tempted occasionally to try to grow one, but I have doubts about the success rate..

  12. Beautiful broccoli. Never come across it before. Suspect I'd sit looking at it for a long time before eating it. :)


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