November 23, 2013
The Great Dixter Christmas Fair is held this weekend. After a wander around the stalls set up in the house, a chance to wander around the garden for the last time this year – for most of us anyway. In the Barn Garden, the fig, now bare, stretched out to take as much of the winter sun as possible is a thing of great beauty . . .
. . I find the piles of compost and mulches and the stacks of felled timber equally beautiful in a functional sense.
The clipped buxus by the front of the house have a melodious form. Fergus has tackled a hebe in a similar manner; I’m not sure about this aesthetically or is the formal European treatment of a New Zealander that disconcerts me? Interesting though. Looking through the archive, I find a post from last November (written a couple of weeks earlier in the month) where a shot of the oast and the border in the Blue Garden is almost identical . . .
. . . Dixter is a strange mix of the vernacular and the strength of form and texture in the planting – some contemporary. Very close to the hovel (above) in the Exotic Garden is a great explosion of foliage and vertical, soft and furry buds on a tetrapanax. No sign of the new dogs today, but Titch was around craving attention and receiving much affection. . .
. . across the Cat Garden, behind the Long Border, seedheads are slowly turning to biscuit tones . . .
. . but the Long Border itself still has spots of colourful fruits and lingering flowerheads – delicate in composition. And opposite, the mulberry too shows delicacy in its form and texture.
As does this grouping in the corner of the Vegetable Garden looking across the Orchard . . .
. . . by the Horse Pond, great stands of gunnera slowly collapsing after their performance. Applause and much appreciation.
What’s green is going, taking
with it the last hiding-places
of the light, its spills
The trunk of the one wild cherry
ink black, like the swan’s neck,
its leaves sharp scarlet beaks.
The land’s flayed bare by its reckonings
with the century –
torn off a strip,
like the sod that Private Harry Farr
The moon pins its white square
of flannel over the heart.
Dawn drips its slate-light
across the field,
scratches another name
on its sum of wonders. Alison Fell November (6) Lightyear
(Harry Farr was a young Yorkshire soldier shot in Flanders for so-called desertion)
November 15, 2013
At low tide, looking across Nook Drain, the tussocky forms of Atriplex portulacoides (sea purslane) are revealed carpeting the marsh extents of the River Rother. A hidden landscape at high tide. Foragers will collect the seed for pesto or something more complicated . .
. . looking to the west across the wader pool, an area of John Gooder’s saltmarsh habitat, the teazels retain their presence. Humans can consume the seeds as a remedy for Lyme Disease but they are much needed by winged foragers as the temperatures drop. Looking again at these photos taken early afternoon, I realise how deceptive they are. In reality the river path through the wildlife reserve was thick with folks enjoying a stroll in the sun – and why not – but my interest lay to the landscape and the eclectic elements within and also in the distance. The large built mass of the power station at Dungeness is just hovering on the horizon in the image below . . .
. . closer at hand is one of a pair of WW2 blockhouses and, of course, the much photographed red roofed hut. How many coats of paint or bitumen has this received over the years? The end of the path is blocked now as construction work is being carried out to the long timber river wall but it’s possible to trudge and slither down the pebbles on one side and gain access to the beach . . .
. . . and discover the groynes in many shapes, formats and materials.
Soft textures working their way across the steel and natural stone as well as sculptural man made hummocks of concrete. On the ground there are watery imprints of the tide as it leaves the last surface – sand.
October 27, 2013
First glimpse of the harbour arm this morning down at The Stade and once passed the fishing boats the rainbow colours are left behind . . .
. . if I’d chosen B+W these images couldn’t be more graphic. Great turbulent sea.
Even the puddles have a marine quality – this one looks like a large turbot. Nipping into Sonny’s at Rock – a – Nore turbot wasn’t on offer but no matter as his display looked mouth watering as always.
Battling up the shallow incline of The Old Town High Street to see Drawings Inspired by Great Dixter Gardens which had some resonance with the bare bones of the stormy weather. Large charcoal compositions that ignore one of the attributes that Dixter is famous for – the variety of colour within the planting palette. So, a brave decision, but one that many are appreciative of.
Artist and gallery owner in deep conversation and an idea of the scale of ‘Echo’, the largest piece. Listen carefully and you might hear nightingales . . . .
. . I rather like these shots where other pieces are reflected to form layered compositions. I also rather like it when our garden clients come along and make a purchase. Very good choice, James.
It’s been a weekend devoted to gardens. And devoted to gardens with yew hedges that provide a still and calming presence. Yesterday was spent at Sissinghurst when we talked a lot about control. How to convey sense of place and mood when writing about gardens. How to describe the character of plants successfully. How to dig deeper and also how to edit. Today, there is no control and hence the choice of poem, but it was a close run thing with Robert Frost.
The sea awoke at midnight from its sleep,
And round the pebbly beaches far and wide
I heard the first wave of the rising tide
Rush onward with uninterrupted sweep;
A voice out of the silence of the deep,
A sound mysteriously multiplied
As of a cataract from the mountain’s side,
Or roar of winds upon a wooded steep.
So comes to us at times, from the unknown
And inaccessible solitudes of being,
The rushing of the sea-tides of the soul;
And inspirations, that we deem our own,
Are some divine foreshadowing and foreseeing
Of things beyond our reason or control. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow The Sound of the Sea
September 22, 2013
To the west of Aix-en-Provence, is a site that forms part of ‘Sur les Pas de Cézanne‘, if you are a tourist but is also a splendid place if you are a resident. I was very taken with this well built welcoming wall but someone else, quite small, charged off to see what happened beyond the far gate. The gate was quite lovely and well designed – everything was looking very promising until we hit the visitor’s centre . . .
. . . peering into the entrance through bars, we discovered that unfortunately we’d missed the only slot of the day for a guided tour. This happens at 9.45am but only on certain days. So I am grateful to Louisa Jones + photographer Clive Nichols for these scans below taken from Mediterranean Landscape Design – a wonderful book – of the scheme. Philippe Daliau (ALEP Agency) has created fine and sensitive interventions within the exposed stone providing a walk over differing surfaces with differing treatments – timber, metal -where views are encapsulated and framed by angled mass of the rock – some hewn and some natural.
Wandering through just part of the 7 hectare site that provided stone for the building of Aix (up to the end of 18C), we came across individual stone landscapes. In a certain way, it’s like a lost world but then in another, it’s seems well used. Rock climbing at a novice scale, mountain bikes carefully controlled, joggers, picque niques and large family get togethers and 4 legs all jostling together in a merry fashion.
Scrub oak, arbutus, pistacia lentiscus and pine form the major structural planting with some cistus, rosemary, euphorbia and rambling lonicera in the sunny patches . . .
. . framed views of Mont Sainte – Victoire and the barrage Zola taken while we lounged around on a rocky outcrop – an indulgent pastime for a Saturday morning and why not?
And moving on we find a built structure, not a cabanon that Cézanne might have used during his time drawing and painting here . . .
. . but a building that encouraged interaction and it had with a great view. Can’t take my eyes off the landscape.
The Irish lady can say, that to-day is every day. Caesar can say that
every day is to-day and they say that every day is as they say.
In this way we have a place to stay and he was not met because
he was settled to stay. When I said settled I meant settled to stay.
When I said settled to stay I meant settled to stay Saturday. In this
way a mouth is a mouth. In this way if in as a mouth if in as a
mouth where, if in as a mouth where and there. Believe they have
water too. Believe they have that water too and blue when you see
blue, is all blue precious too, is all that that is precious too is all
that and they meant to absolve you. In this way Cézanne nearly did
nearly in this way. Cézanne nearly did nearly did and nearly did.
And was I surprised. Was I very surprised. Was I surprised. I was
surprised and in that patient, are you patient when you find bees.
Bees in a garden make a specialty of honey and so does honey. Honey
and prayer. Honey and there. There where the grass can grow nearly
four times yearly. G Stein Cézanne
August 31, 2013
Small jetties stretch into Bahia Redondo of Lago Argentina laying west of the centre of El Calafate. The town is small in relation to the size of the lago – and nowhere near as interesting but then it doesn’t purport to be anything but a base for visitors exploring the glaciers. I’ve looked at these images many times and resisted using them in a post mainly as I have a feeling that pics are done and dusted when added to the narrative . . . don’t want to let these go . . .
. . . Laguna Nimez and Laguna Secondaria gently embrace the marshland and the dune landscape of the nature reserve in an organic formation and, in quiet contrast, to the urban grid of the paths, roads and the geometric building mass of the town. We came across this young lad smothered in a patch of anthemis covering land destined for development . . . .
. . . and then immersed ourselves in the wetland area - with these larger inhabitants.
Typical vegetation of Berberis heterophyllus and ‘neneo’ Mulinum spinosum. The small furry foliage of Senecio patagonicus forms the ground cover. El Calafate was named after the berberis (calafate) bush - the landmark plant where the stage coach stopped.
Calafate puro or jam is totally delicious and makes a good ingredient for ice cream. Song birds and small rodents feed on the berries too. So bog standard berberis that we use freely in supermarket planting schemes has, after all, a more personal quality. Good.
Without resorting to lists – Snipe, Chilean flamingoes and black necked swans pad about and dip their beaks and necks into this watery ecosystem and the rush bird is also active within the reeds. Finches, sparrows, wrens and mockingbirds find protection amongst the calafate bushes. It is a list of course.
Rather out of focus but fitting in with the colour background is a long tailed meadowlark. A pair of young buzzards scan the ground for promising food. Other things fly here . . .
. . and early snow cover sits on the peaks in the Bernardo O’Higgins National Park to the north.
Hummingbirds and blackbirds and two great poets. Poems to read and absorb in tough times.
And then there was St Kevin and the blackbird.
The saint is kneeling, arms stretched out, inside
His cell, but the cell is narrow, so
One turned-up palm is out the window, stiff
As a crossbeam, when a blackbird lands
and Lays in it and settles down to nest.
Kevin feels the warm eggs, the small breast, the tucked
Neat head and claws and, finding himself linked
Into the network of eternal life,
Is moved to pity: now he must hold his hand
Like a branch out in the sun and rain for weeks
Until the young are hatched and fledged and flown.
And since the whole thing’s imagined anyhow,
Imagine being Kevin. Which is he?
Self-forgetful or in agony all the time
From the neck on out down through his hurting forearms?
Are his fingers sleeping? Does he still feel his knees?
Or has the shut-eyed blank of underearth
Crept up through him? Is there distance in his head?
Alone and mirrored clear in love’s deep river,
‘To labour and not to seek reward,’ he prays,
A prayer his body makes entirely
For he has forgotten self, forgotten bird
And on the riverbank forgotten the river’s name.
Seamus Heaney St Kevin and the blackbird
is a water-spark,
an incandescent drip
the hummingbird is
in the air,
a body of pollen,
or hot coal,
I ask you:
What is your substance?
Perhaps during the blind age
of the Deluge,
when the rose
in an anthracite fist,
and metals matriculated
each one in
a secret gallery
from a wounded reptile
some fragment rolled,
a golden atom,
the last cosmic scale,
a drop of terrestrial fire
suspending your splendor,
on a nut,
fit into a diminutive blossom;
you are an arrow,
honey’s vibrato, pollen’s ray;
you are so stouthearted–
with his black plumage
does not daunt you:
a light within the light,
air within the air.
Wrapped in your wings,
you penetrate the sheath
of a quivering flower,
that her nuptial honey
may take off your head!
From scarlet to dusty gold,
to yellow flames,
to the rare
to the orange and black velvet
of our girdle gilded by sunflowers,
to the sketch
little supreme being,
you are a miracle,
from torrid California
to Patagonia’s whistling,
You are a sun-seed,
a petal of silenced nations,
of buried blood,
of an ancient heart,
submerged. Pablo Neruda Ode to the Humminbird
August 8, 2013
The country park is also a nature reserve that spreads itself over the cliffs to the east of Hastings and further along the coast to Fairlight and Pett. It’s good to escape the town in the early morning and explore and stroll freely before the dog walkers arrive. This environment combines heath, grass and woodland in well balanced amounts, all battered by strong, salt laden winds, mostly westerlies. I liked both images of the town nestling between the two cliffs and really couldn’t choose one or the other . . .
. . . seats are placed to take in views of all aspects. This very grainy image into bright 9 o’clock sun taken from the favourite bench offers a glimpse of leisure craft and fishing boats and containers mingling together – they’ve all been out for hours!.
The footpaths are disappearing now under the rampant growth that happens with a sunny summer with spasms of useful rain. Brambles are just fruiting up nicely and in fact I picked a blackberry this afternoon.
Water flows through the glynes down to the sea. At this point, the way down to the beach is via a rope - about 4m long – well secured to the sandstone rock.
Ecclesbourne Meadow is part of a restoration project to prevent the encroaching growth of scrub and bramble but, also, the detrimental effects of modern intensive farming techniques. Areas of insect friendly wild flower planting is marked off with mown paths offering close engagement for walkers – these areas are also carefully managed by grazing.
Ecclesbourne Glen is the home of ash and scrub oak – with contorted sculptural branches – bracken and now, epilobium. Pools of shadow envelop the wooded landscape that spills down directly to the town.
The beach belongs
to me. A dark tide
stretching the moon.
“The beach is ours.
It saves us when
our waters break.”
“We are the beach.
You pound on us
with energy rude
and swell subdued.”
God coughs politely.
“I think you’ll find
the beach is mine.
I share the sea, the sea
with one whose mind
was breached.” Pam Hughes The Beach (for Iris Murdoch)
July 23, 2013
Early evening at a Great Dixter Friends’ event – cloudy skies mean little shadow. Softness is the prevailing texture in the front meadow with quiet colour allowing for the full picture of buildings, trees and hedging to read in complete proportion. I’m always aware of the buildings here with the spaces around the buildings having a clarity as well as differing character. Good design.
In the Sunk Garden, a mass of Cenolophium, unusual placing in a confined space – but it works.
The division - brickwork and planting – between the Sunk Garden and the Wall Garden, contains a bold combination of magenta lychnis + small dark dahlia.
Groups of cornflowers, seemingly the favoured annual this year, repeated at intervals down the Long Border. Yellow tones read well in low light with the clearest and brightest seen on the torchlike stems of verbascum.
Quite lovely pale evening primrose in this composition . . . .
. . . and a stronger coloured form stands up well with purple tones.
Across the Cat Garden, shimmers of stipa flowers bridge the gap between the perennial layer and the yew hedging.
The growth especially of perennials in the Orchard Garden is overwhelming and luxurient. . . .
. . and right at the furthest boundary of the Vegetable Garden,sits a long thin border packed with matrix planting. Jewel like perfection.
The use of colour here has always been bold – it takes confidence to mix these 2 tones of blue with a touch of cerise . . .
. . but a more obvious tried and tested combination of yellow flowering ferula, purple clematis and soft pink rose.
Exuberance of planting around the Peacock Garden contrast with quieter but, as complex, combinations such as low euphorbia in the selective mix of species in the Prairie . . .
. . and teazles with onions.
There is another sky,
Ever serene and fair,
And there is another sunshine,
Though it be darkness there;
Never mind faded forests, Austin,
Never mind silent fields -
Here is a little forest,
Whose leaf is ever green;
Here is a brighter garden,
Where not a frost has been;
In its unfading flowers
I hear the bright bee hum:
Prithee, my brother,
Into my garden come! Emily Dickinson
July 4, 2013
Under grey skies on Romney Marsh. This view is from the road that runs through the shingle to the cluster of buildings erected around the old lighthouse. All now dwarfed by the power station. I am particularly fond of this view of this barren landscape – only to be found on this side of the road.
Directly opposite on the other side of the road sits Prospect Cottage, home of Derek Jarman until mid 1990′s. Each year this humble shack receives a new finish. In the grainy light, the poem by John Donne, on the exterior facade is only just visible. A few folks had set up their stools and were busy capturing the composition of house within garden and, within setting, in water colour. There are no boundaries to land in this environment and you can move restfully around the ‘garden’ of the cottage to view, admire and breathe it all in. Most of the planted species are indigenous and native material will also pop up from wind blown or bird dropped seed.
The impact of the surroundings completes the picture – in an informative way and also strangely in an enigmatic visual sense. This was a unique ‘garden’, now much copied and mostly badly.
In the 28 years since the initial visit, I have witnessed considerable changes to the habitations along the road. Over the last 5 years, almost complete gentrification has happened. Expensive vehicles are parked outside the neat refurbished houses. Fluffy garden areas are now established – all looking totally false in contrast to the original at Prospect Cottage.
The native planting where man doesn’t interfere still retains a quite specific feel and I fell in love with it all over again.
Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows and through curtains call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late schoolboys and sour ‘prentices,
Go tell court huntsmen that the King will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows, nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Thy beams, so reverend and strong
Why shoulds’t thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long;
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
Whether both th’Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me?
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, ‘All here in one bed lay.’
She’s all states, and all princes, I;
Nothing else is.
Princes do but play us; compared to this,
All honour’s mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here, to us, and thou art everywhere;
This bed thy centre is, these walls, thy sphere. John Donne The Sunne Rising
May 31, 2013
‘Tracks, prints and paths’ is a phrase used by Robert Macfarlane describing Eric Ravilious’ interaction with the South Downs in Macfarlane’s book ‘The Old Ways’ but James Russell is the recognised authoritative voice on Ravilious. Many images from Ravilious in Pictures published by The Mainstone Press are appearing on the web just now so I thought to put together my limited narrative of the Footsteps of Ravilious day exploring the South Downs landscape that inspired him. An event organised by the Towner, where many of his watercolour drawings are in the permanent collection.
Agricultural landscapes were his love . . . . . and appropriately we started our day at East Dean Farm sitting by the pond that he used as subject matter. This view sets the scene well although now quite gentrified (someone has ‘lined’ the pond) and the farm is now used as a wedding venue as well as a rare breeds sheep farm.
On to the chalk cliffs of Newhaven harbour and the west pier, where the tumps in the landscape (shown below) were made to house lunette batteries that protected the sea defences from invasion by Napoleon.
My view out to sea and, below ’Newhaven Harbour’ a lithograph that Ravilious tagged as ‘Hommage to Seurat’.
. . and reach the view of Muggery Poke, now abandoned, but a landmark for those who wish to fly . . . and float. All the four legs remain oblivious.
Ravilious experienced a busier use of the agricultural landscape. Mount Caborn in the distance.
Looking down from Bedingham Hill, signs remain of the old chalk pits and Cement Works no 2 that closed in 1968. Barges travelled up and down the Ouse carrying cement. Eventually this became a landfill site - the black pipes that release the methane are still visible before the gorse and scrubby hawthorn reclaim the area. Ravilious made some studies of the pits, the workings and the railway.
The sinuous path of the Ouse is quite beautiful . . .
. . . as is the river Cuckmere in Cuckmere Haven – watercolour by Ravilious. We drop down passing Coombe Barn and The Lay turning up the track where the fever wagons were placed. And arrive at Furlongs, the home of Peggy Angus, but owned by a Mr Wilson who managed the cement works. Angus and Ravilious were great friends and she remains an important figure in circle of artists and craft makers here at this time. Furlongs was the gathering point.
Ravilious considered that what he discovered during spells at Furlongs was fundamental : “…altered my whole outlook and way of painting, I think because the colour of the landscape was so lovely and the design so beautifully obvious … that I simply had to abandon my tinted drawings”.
One water wheel is still in-situ by Little Dean . . .
. . on to Firle where the lilac blooms were just breaking forth. And into the walled garden where plastic sheeting has replaced the green house glass. Military canes at the ready to support tomatoes and the almost exact point from where Ravilious made his composition for ‘The Greenhouse: Cyclamen and Tomatoes’.
As the exploration came to an end, I thought about the changes in the landscape 80 years on since Ravilious had captured and executed his visions. A good deal of the South Downs is a National park and there are 37 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. This wikipedia link is helpful in understanding the changes in agricultural practice here. And to close, this front garden of one of the village cottages packed with aquilegia and bluebells retains a sense of the past – cottage gardens are back in fashion.
Now a little bit of nostalgia. Below is a water colour drawing by Edward Bawden of his friend ‘The Boy’, Eric Ravilious in his Studio at Radcliffe Road’. They became friends meeting at the Royal College. Bawden, John Nash and Philip Ardizzone taught me at Colchester School of Art. Edward and John Nash, both small in stature, were impeccably dressed in tweed suits with waistcoats and perfectly knotted ties. I’m afraid we students were not dressed in a similar manner, after all it was the late 60′s . . . flares and mini skirts. They would spend quite a while just giggling at private jokes – a sweet pair. I’m embarassed to say that we didn’t really know who these talented tutors were but we did respect and appreciate the knowledge that they imparted and their sense of civility. Bawden taught me to carve perfect circles with a lino cutter but mine were never up to his standard!
This post has connections with Ravilious too. And invaluable reading: ‘Eric Ravilious Memoir of an Artist’ – Helen Binyon and ‘Eric Ravilious Imagined Realities’ – Alan Powers.
A sulky lad scuffs idly through the scree
head down beneath a kite cart-wheeling sky.
Daedalus seals his art to set him free,
pinions fulmar feathers waxed and dry
onto the golden shoulders of his son.
‘Swoop down too low, the sea will drown your wings.
The great sun which fires my tears and stings
Your eyes’, Icarus stumble into flight,
Stretching his wings through a May soaring day,
Higher and higher from his father’s sight.
He reaches for heaven; suns flame his way.
Feathered keenings close a reckless flight.
A falling lullaby of dripping light. Pam Hughes Rite of Passage.
May 23, 2013
Rather shocked to see that I haven’t been to Chelsea for 3 years. Years ago, it was an event to look forward to – the development of show gardens, sound second hand book stalls where work by Sylvia Crowe and Nan Fairbrother could be found, the design tent (my home for many years) and mostly the delight of Beth Chatto’s stand in the Grand Marquee. Now, Twitter, Facebook et al tells us exactly what we’ll find so the sense of discovery doesn’t exist. The sun used to shine too, on the odd occasion. Yesterday, the place was packed. We shuffled around trying to poke a nose over shoulders of crowds that appeared to be looking at exhibits but of course were gawping at the TV celebs busy filming. Due to the heavy cloud and the bitter cold, I made straight for the flowers . . . inside . . . .
. . classy stand created by Avon Bulbs. Deep maroon Tulipa ‘Paul Scherer’, white fringed Tulipa ‘Daytona’, Allium ‘White Empress’ and Anthericum liliago major stood serene. Hard to miss is Sue from Crug Farm Plants – colourful gear and great jewellery - manning the display of foliage rich specimens. Many are grown from seed collected from annual plant hunting expeditions. Show stopper here is Disporum longistyllum with black and green stems standing proud.
As sculptural, but to be pitied, a large excavated tree on the East Malling Research Stand with all roots exposed. Folks edged around it nervously and were supposed to wonder at how ‘scientific knowledge can be focused on rootstocks and growing techniques, through to the modern application of genetic studies to advance fruit culture’. Boffins can be brutal! To the other extreme, opulence and pure decoration from the Far East but quite hideous . . .
. . stonking lupins and touches of ethereal beauty - geum, verbascum and ladybird poppies – created by Rosy Hardy
The light’s quite strange inside the Grand Marquee and I’m nowhere in terms of photography which is a frustrating combination. Below is the evidence, oh dear. Beautiful and imaginative display of cascading amaryllis badly captured. This stand by the Dutch firm of Warmenhoven showing their fabulous bulbs upwards and downwards ticked all the boxes for me and, amazingly enough, for the RHS, and we hardly ever agree.
Well, outside I shivered but this lady carried off her outing with great aplomb and I did see a few hats and remembered Jane accordingly.
A few of the show gardens warrant some exposure here. Ulf Nordfell designed this for Laurent-Perrier. Simple, clean and classical. Sleek, calm and contemporary. Exquisite use of crafted materials – soft and sublime planting – all excellent. However, I much preferred his Linnaeus Garden of 2007. And someone has just asked Why? Well, the narrative in that garden was strong, clear and compelling – that’s my answer.
Unfortunately for Ulf, he was partnered alongside this great spectacle seen below . . .
. . Christopher Bradley – Hole designed this . . . he can do the narrative so well. And he courageously filled the space with plants and let us rest our elbows on green oak balustrade so we could breath it all in and, of course, admire his skill and that of the contractor.
The inspiration cane from the English countryside - field patterns and native plants with some Japanese overtones and a little Mien Ruys too perhaps? But I didn’t mention that to him – next time perhaps . . .
. . the profiles of green oak and charred oak that wrap 2 sides of the garden have caused a stir.
And something that caused another stir is The Trailfinders Australian Garden. On the rock bank and filled with glorious plants like Brachtrichon rupestris sourced from a nursery in Sicily. The chaps on the stand were thrilled with their Best in Show – such enthusiasm rubbed off all around.
The product stands at the show have their share of hideous rubbish . . . a strange dichotomy . . . well designed ( mostly!!) show gardens and quite lovely plants on the nursery stands and pure crap on the product stalls. This ghastliness above loomed over the small ‘Fresh’ gardens where designers are asked to be brave and challenge preconceptions. Some achieved this and some didn’t quite. I liked this - Digital Capabilities – where the concept of engagement of technology and physical space was explored by Harfleet and Harfleet. The degree of Twitter activity manipulated the movement of screens.
And this garden ‘After the Fire’ was also popular especially with me. After last summer’s spell in Languedoc and Provence enjoying the garrigue landscape, this little landscape connected completely. Regeneration of plant life following forest fires . . . seed collected by Kelways and nurtured to provide some of the planting. Huddled amongst the burnt stems are members of the Mediterranean Garden Society from Greece and France
Always interesting to see and learn how recycled materials can be used effectively as on The Wasteland but I didn’t understand the planting especially the siting of 3 blowsy pink rhodos! Echoes of the past.
But I did understand this stand of Sneeboer garden tools. Best thing to finish off with and good to see you again James Aldridge!
The following were not allowed in the house:
A lone glove, dropped.
The new moon’s crescent glimpsed in the mirror.
The sky-spars of an open umbrella.
There was also the rubic of May
and its blossoms. Granny barred the door
against hawthorn and the sloe,
even the rowan with its friendly acrid smell of underwear,
so that Bride the white goddess
could not dance herself in from the moor,
or too much beauty break and enter
her winter store of darkness. Alison Fell 5 May