At last! Intention becomes action on a thermal-coat-and-beret day after a warm spell. I make my way down to the university library, not, you understand, to read books, but to enjoy the roof-top garden.
At ground level, the grass is lush, and water flows between low banks edged with glowing yellow flowers buttercup-sheened. Not much is flowering, but a white poplar deigns to dangle its branches within easy reach of the camera. Towering banks covered with creepers hold promise of full-spring splendour; granite sculptures by Ryszard Stryjecki are polished to a glossy caramel-orange and black revealing intricate whorls; paths and stairs lead in all directions; and there are plenty of green metal seats if you want to contemplate gardenscape and skyline. I cross the stream and then cross it again, looking up the stairs and the water pipes to the roofline: a dome of vine branches, a spire with a flat top. I hear the throaty sound of frog-croak, but it turns out to be a crow, standing guard above a water-spurt.
At the top of the long flight of stairs there’s a burst of pincushion colour, and then the vine dome just breaking into bud. I follow paths past windows looking down into the library and leading to vantage points: you can look across the river to the twin spires of Praga; towards the palace of culture or the churches of the Old Town; and much closer, over Most Świetokrzyski to the stadium. Conifers, the current bête noire of my photography world, mock me with their uncatchable beauty.
The garden, designed by Irena Bajerska, is one of the largest roof gardens in Europe. There are four sections, colour themed: the golden garden, the silver garden, the purple garden and the green garden. I’ll be back in full spring for a viewing. For now, I relish the plant names: shrubby cinquefoil, golden virginsbower, bearberry cotoneaster, dappled willow, netleaf willow, perennial quakinggrass, blue hairgrass, ice plant, wild thyme, thrift seapink, Chinese fleecevine, periwinkle.