When I was five, my family moved into a new house. It was bigger and better than the one we had come from but in my little girl eyes it had one big drawback - the huge Bird of Paradise plant out the front.
I hated that plant. The flowers looked mean. They were spiky and vicious looking and I thought they were very ugly. Other flowers were were soft and delicate with sweet scents in stark contrast to the far-from-subtle Bird of Paradise bloom.
Age has not only mellowed my view of the Bird of Paradise it has totally reversed it. Look at that bloom photographed this morning near the rowing club at West End. Yes, it is nothing like a rose but the Strelitzia now seems bold and beautiful.
It's form and colour are striking and demand attention. Those petals, which are supposed to resemble the Bird of Paradise, actually look to me like flames licking upwards, especially when back lit by the rising sun.
It's a case of paradise found.