Broadwood Road, Happy Valley and Foliage
In 1923 we moved up to a house in Broadwood Road, on the
Ridge overlooking Happy Valley. It was a lovely tree-lined road of
houses and gardens with wild violets and ferns growing in shady
places. In the gardens were azaleas, pink and white and red, yellow
Allamanda, Duranta with sprays of mauve blossoms, Caesalpinia with pretty yellow flowers and delicate leaves, hibiscus, scarlet and pink
and yellow, white spider lilies, blue climbing morning glory
(convolvulus), pink Honolulu creeper, bignonia, the red cracker flower
shrub - the buds "popped" when you squeezed them - and Chinese
roses. In the flower beds, zinnia, coreopsis, gaillardia, African
marigolds and French marigolds, Bachelors buttons, pink and crimson and white cosmos, asters, cockscombs, petunias, salvia, verbena.
In our garden I remember the pine trees, the peach tree with its
pink blossoms, the roses and the "Lady of the Night" shrub whose
bunches of white flowers gave off a strong fragrance at night.
Behind our house on the hillside pretty blue torenias grew wild.
I remember the colourful butterflies and the large Atlas moths, and
hearing the birds calling "Come-to-the-Peak-ha-ha!" and the rainbird, so
called because it sang when it was going to rain; and magpies -
superstitious Mamma if she saw one, would immediately look around
for another, declaring that it was unlucky to see only one magpie.
Our friends the Bradburys lived near us on the Ridge, Bert and
Margaret and their daughters Violet and Joan, both younger than
Audrey and I. Margaret was a calm and happy person with an
infectious laugh, Bert was in the Dairy Farm and Cold Storage
Company. He invested in stocks and shares and, having the Midas
touch, became a rich man. But his and Margaret's tastes were
simple, and Mamma used to say that they did not know how to enjoy their money! Little Joan had a sweet voice, and Audrey,
Vi and I would get her to sing a popular American song "Red
lips, kiss my blues away"!
In the sub-tropical climate of Hong Kong, flowers bloomed all the
year round. There were wonderful flowering shrubs growing wild
on the hillsides and in the valleys of the Island and the New
Territories. Many of these had white flowers, including Tutcheria,
Schima, Gordonia, Melodinus and Gardenia florida whose white
flowers with pointed petals turned to ivory and then yellow. Very
showy plants were Melastoma with purplish pink flowers, and Camellia
hongkongensis with flowers of another shade of pink. Mussaenda
was a strange shrub that always fascinated me;its tiny yellow
flowers grew in bunches on long stalks surrounded by large white
sepals looking like leaves.
But the most common of the shrubs and our best loved was the
Barley Bue, with its large rosepink flower that turned into a fruit
good to eat; its Latin name Rhodomyrtus, the Rose Myrtle.
There were several wild roses, the most showy being Rosa laevigata;
when in full bloom it was a heavenly sight - a huge bush covered
with large single white roses, very fragrant. The other kinds had
smaller flowers, pink, white and deep rose.
In this floral Paradise it was a joy to walk along the paths over the
hills, each corner opening up another vista of steep ravines, more hills,
sea, islands, lonely valleys. In the Spring the hillsides were bright
with new leaves, fresh green, orange and red.
We found ground orchids blooming in sheltered cool places, usually
beside hill streams or nullahs, the plants six to eight inches tall, the
flowers about an inch and a half across - one a pink flower growing
singly on its long stem - another with three or four yellow flowers on
the stem. In shady places grew wild violets, half hidden by ferns.
There were said to be four kinds of violets growing in Hong Kong
and 124 different kinds of ferns! Ferns large and small grew
everywhere, some of the tiny ones were red in colour when young,
very lovely they were. Large blue bellflowers grew in masses on a grassy hillside. It was a thrill when I first saw these delicate flowers
blowing in the wind. Their name was Platycodon grandiflora.
The year we went to live on the Ridge we met Andy and Terry,
Walter Andrews and Leslie Terry. Andy was 22, and shared my
liking for walking in the hills. We walked over Wong Nei Chong Gap
to Repulse Bay one day when Hong Kong was looking its most
beautiful, and all the flowers were in bloom. Andy came from East
Anglia and used to tell me all about the Norfolk Broads. Terry was a keen photographer and must have taken dozens of photographs of Audrey and me!