May 25, 2013
The nursery at Great Dixter opens well before the garden. This is a very good arrangement for us locals as we can shop and then start the journey around the garden (as a Friend, of course) before the world arrives. There was a fresh energy in the air this morning. Folks who know the set up will understand the chronology of the pics that follow. The group of malus by the lane full of frothy white blossom partners the line of ash opposite looking OK??? fingers crossed . . .
. . delicate touch on the woven fence – just enough for the country setting. Stacks/heaps/piles of hazel and… and … other timber.
Into the Front Meadow carpeted now with camassia.
And a couple of residents enjoying the sun at last by the front door. People who know me well also know that I am a little taken with these. They remind me of the 4 that I’ve had over many years. This is 2 year old Conifer in the foreground . . .
. . . and Miscanthus who is about 6 months old. She’s very sweet.
Strolling around to the Peacock Garden and the Carnival of Birds . . . I see the first of many Ferula with main stalk thrusting skywards.
A few views from the Cat Garden, High Garden and the Orchard Garden in no particular order.
By know I’ve decided that Fergus has become obsessed with ferulas – similar to his great liking of verbascums a couple of years ago. But then he’s master of the visual and the horticultural. Down to the Orchard where orchids are just flirting with the buttercups . . .
. . and on down the Long Border where a snapshot of the strong colour combinations that Christo enjoyed was framed.
Muso basjoo, in the Exotic garden, still in their winter clothes but signs of delights flowering well on the walls around the Sunken Garden and a glimpse of a ghost.
And for those students of Hadlow and University of Greenwich, I caught up with Kemal who was looking suitably nervous about his plant idents for the Great Dixter study days – some sympathy or a wry smile maybe, but fond memories.
Within my Garden, rides a Bird Upon a single Wheel -- Whose spokes a dizzy Music make As 'twere a travelling Mill -- He never stops, but slackens Above the Ripest Rose -- Partakes without alighting And praises as he goes, Till every spice is tasted -- And then his Fairy Gig Reels in remoter atmospheres -- And I rejoin my Dog, And He and I, perplex us If positive, 'twere we -- Or bore the Garden in the Brain This Curiosity -- But He, the best Logician, Refers my clumsy eye -- To just vibrating Blossoms! An Exquisite Reply! Emily Dickinson
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
A misty start to Green Man Day this year. We wandered down the front . . .
. . . and passed the pier shrouded in sea fog. But then the mass of metal hit us as the roar of exhausts filled the air . .
. . and on to Rock a Nore where the crowds milled around innocently, made up of small groupings catching up on the local gossip as well as meeting and greeting 12 months on. (Click on the bold to see the previous 3 years posted here + more info on the why, what and the wherefore of this event).
Jack is set free from the net hut and Mad Jack’s Woman dance around him before the procession starts with Mad Jack’s Morris waving hankies, slapping each others buttocks in a manner that brings to the fore many other British eccentricities . . .
. . the Gay Bogies, Hannah’s Cat, The Lovely Ladies and Green Participants enter into the spirit of the occasion . . .
. . many costumes are to be admired . . .
. . Giant figures enter into the procession at significant stages – but don’t ask me when or why. I like the ‘shy lady’ though with her coy glance . . .
. . the Sweeps arrive looking dark, dusty and threatening . . . .
. . the decoration of their top hats needs a closer examination – bits of everything cobbled together.
More hats and head dresses . . . easy to see above the mellay.
After the group of dark sweeps, more colourful costumes pass by including dogs suitably attired . . .
. . there’s a good deal of drumming and banging of staves and some sort of dancing – quite a lot is about thrusting at the opposing partner!
My favourite well dressed participant (above) – different costume every year but always recognisable. Well done again, Sir.
It becomes difficult to differentiate between the ‘live’ and the model .
In the Old Town High Street, doors and windows have been adorned . . . .
. . it’s a tight, narrow street, so the sound wells up and the excitement created by the enthusiasm of those in the procession and the onlookers blends into a fantastic festive eruption of movement and colour.
The costumes can be better appreciated from the rear.
Some in the procession appear resolute and determined . . . . . and others want to remain incognito.
Some appear swashbuckling and cavalier . . .
. . and some want a rest now and then.
The sea front fills up with more metal, leather, sweat and . . . . the sense of anorak.
It’s a strange occasion! The so-called modern world of the machine meets the world of myths.
It is not growing like a tree
in bulk, doth make Man better be;
or standing long an oak three hundred year,
to fall a log at last, dry, bald, and sere;
A lily of a day
is fairer in May,
although it fall and die that night-
It was the plant and flower of Light.
In small proportions we just beauties see:
and in short measures life may perfect be, Ben Johnson The Noble Nature
May 1, 2013
Today, May 1st, a walk beckoned to loosen up stiff limbs from days sitting in cars, sitting at desks, sitting doing drawings on screen, sitting . . . although a session of stretching in a yoga class was helpful last night. A walk to the The Long Man at Wilmington was an attractive idea that quickly evolved into a necessity. This man is a landmark clearly visible from the road and the train that connects Eastbourne to Brighton. He’s also called the Giant and the Green Man and, is thought to be from the Iron Age or neolithic period, but is most likely 16th or 17th C. On the journey from the village to the point where the visitor can climb up gradually to his feet, he plays the game of hiding and then being revealed.
Eric Ravilious painted this view in water colours at the start of the 2nd war. Interesting to read his fascination with chalk figures.
At 70m in length, so the height of 40 men, but with no visible baggage. Is he a eunuch? I’m afraid I got a little bored with him especially on discovering that he isn’t made from chalk at all but from concrete blocks . . . . and turned to look about to the surrounding views but thought how lucky he is to see these views all of the time.
Stunning wind swept hawthorns litter the Downs here and reminded me of a painting by Harold Mockford, ’Asleep on the Downs’, which is the last thing I see at night and the first thing I see in the morning.
Primroses and wild violets carpet the tufty grassy surface we walk on and skylarks swoop in pairs above our heads . . .
. . . . towards Newhaven, where Harold lives, a rather interesting pincer movement of landscape features swirl around the rising land and, just turning to Birling Gap, the White Horse becomes visible.
Tumuli and chalk pits provide the ups and the downs of this landscape occupied by the ‘locals’ .
Before the crops fully vegetate, the strong echoing lines of the machine rolling over the landscape are still visible . . . .
. . chalk and flint, the indigenous materials of The Sussex Downs.
When I walk up on the downs
I think of things you nearly said.
Skylarks broke through the cloudless skies,
bristly oxtongue snared my boots.
I’m sorry that I went away.
In the grass which we had flattened
purple clover kissed wild thyme.
I looked at you. You had not spoken
chalk and wind and sea blown words.
Untroubled plantain gazed at us,
salad burnet, hurt, eyebright.
We could make it work this time.
Only mouse-ears heard the things,
high on the downs, you early said. Pam Hughes. Whispers
April 28, 2013
This view of the road from El Calafate going west into Parque Nacional de los Glaciares reminds me of the poster for Thelma and Louise. What lies over the hill and round the bends? We chose to visit the Glaciar Perito Moreno about 80 kms from town. Glaciers – well, of course, I’d seen all the info on the web about the ice cap that spreads across Chile, the Andes and into Santa Cruz and, also have a vague memory of a ski guide pointing out a far off glacier in the Alps. Round each bend the sense of expectation grew . . . .
. . . until at last.
The guide books describe it as ‘a long white tongue’. Good description. You can get close by boat – just discernible in the image below - but we chose to get straight onto the series of platforms and connecting walkways – steps + ramps – that enable a decent, 3 km, journey through the Nothofagus woodland covering the end of the Peninsula Magellanes.
Nothofagus pumilio (lenga) and N. antartica (ńires) but I couldn’t identify one from the other . . .
. . . we learnt that this is the only glacier in the National Park that is not receding but is growing. At the terminus, the width is 5 kms in width and 74m high above the surface of the water of Lago Argentino and the total ice depth here is 170 metres. Data that gives an idea of the scale. Further north at El Chalten, it’s possible to trek on the ice from October to April. The lack of figures in these pics indicates end of season – great for us!
Views across the Canal de los Tempanos are accompanied with a sound track of cracking sounds, as the ice breaks away, and then, the deep crashing noise as ice hits water.
So blue . . . this occurs when snow falls on a glacier, is compressed, and becomes part of the glacier. During the journey down to the water body, the trapped air bubbles are squeezed out and so the size of the crystals increase making it clear. One of us thought it looked a bit dirty . . . but then landscapes are . . .
. . we took off on the north path where the wind whistled through the narrow channels and, consequently, we lost most of our fellow visitors. It started raining and if the wind had been stronger, it would have been a difficult exercise.
This was probably the most atmospheric and magical part of the experience for me. Taxing on the leg muscles and slightly desolate but the route provided a strong connection with the landscape.
Back to the main platform and a final inhalation of great pure air. ‘Take a long look. It might be the last’.
The silent friendliness of the moon
(misquoting Virgil) accompanies you
since that one night or evening lost
in time now, on which your restless
eyes first deciphered her forever
in a garden or patio turned to dust.
Forever? I know someone, someday
will be able to tell you truthfully:
‘You’ll never see the bright moon again,
You’ve now achieved the unalterable
sum of moments granted you by fate.
Useless to open every window
in the world. Too late. You’ll not find her.’
We live discovering and forgetting
that sweet familiarity of the night.
Take a long look. It might be the last. Jorge Luis Borges The Sum
April 21, 2013
On Saturday, The School Creative Centre hosted a drawing workshop run by Anny Evason, based on her installation of A Garden Enclosed – click for more information on this event. The banks of the River Rother, running through Rye, were chosen. Appropriate for an easy journey through natural vegetation alongside the river as it meanders between the coastline at Camber Sands and the junction that feeds into the Military Canal. I was interested to explore this strip of land again, having only walked it with baby in push chair as well as on a foraging expedition. To the north, small lakes have developed following gravel extraction and to the south, Rye is sometimes hidden and then revealed again behind the bunded river banks.
There are young pines here – maybe 20 years old only – that stand out amongst all the deciduous material. Their candelabra form makes a great visual contrast - rather seducing in terms of drawing and sketching. I recall this hedge of chaenomeles from the previous visits. It looks incongruous in these surroundings but actually has great charm.
Stands of alder and willow are just changing appearance as the buds swell on the branches but the reeds still have their wintry look. We made initial sketches using pencil or graphite or directly onto ipads. I made the decision to do quick 15 minute sketches using graphite pencils and squinting with the right eye . . . .
Thickets of buckthorn alongside the gorse – both with the similar spiky attribute – form good habitat structure. The old knarled stems of the gorse were particularly attractive to my eye in this scenario. Full sun threw shadows across the sketchbook. Looked perfect for how I wanted to capture form, shape and habit.
Pairs of lambs graze these low lying meadows. They’re oblivious to all the cyclists, dog walkers and those on drawing workshops . . .
. . this was drawing that I chose to develop into a larger charcoal study using ‘bold mark making’ when we returned into the art room at the centre ‘to explore new techniques, develop skills and to work on large scale drawings’. Not terribly happy with the final result which I worked up on a A1 sheet but then the last time I used charcoal was many years ago doing life drawing on an art foundation course. It was good to concentrate on single inspirational ideas and blot out the mundane things of life.
Farm afternoons, there’s too much blue air.
I go out sometimes, follow the pasture track,
Chewing a blade of sticky grass, chest bare,
In threadbare pyjamas of three summers back.
To the little rivulets in the river-bed
For a drink of water, cold and musical,
And if I spot in the bunch a glow of red,
A raspberry, spit its blood at the corral.
The smell of cow manure is delicious.
The cattle look at me unenviously
And when there comes a sudden stream and hiss
Accompanied by a look not unmalicious,
All of us, animals, unemotionally
Partake together of a pleasant piss. Vinicius de Moraes Sonnet of Intimacy
translation Elizabeth Bishop
April 14, 2013
A sunny day in the UK – colour. light and smiles on faces – reminds me of more exotic places. In the Palermo neighbourhood of Buenos Aires, both of the walls under the railway bridge are covered with wall art. One side is a colourful display of figures and street life making a background to a very good stall selling fruit and vegetables . . . .
. . . on the other, a dramatic scenario with large animals cavorting over what looks like a patchwork quilt.
At the junction, there’s a seating area with plenty of space for both passersby and those that wish to take a few minutes to rest. The gentleman on the right has nodded off. We couldn’t dally as we were rushing off to Palermo Hollywood to seek out a repair shop . . .
. . . which we found here in this rather beautiful building.
Wandering back, this piece of wall art took my eye as well as the vehicle, an old Renault, parked alongside.
I guess our journey to and fro had taken about an hour. Back at the seating area, the gentleman was still dozing, so I presume that the seats are comfy as well as quite jolly . . . .
. . . just a few more images of how to enliven surfaces with freedom of expression. Some with a message and some as pure visual treats. I miss it.
We are the time. We are the famous
metaphor from Heraclitus the Obscure.
We are the water, not the hard diamond,
the one that is lost, not the one that stands still.
We are the river and we are that greek
that looks himself into the river. His reflection
changes into the waters of the changing mirror,
into the crystal that changes like the fire.
We are the vain predetermined river,
in his travel to his sea.
The shadows have surrounded him.
Everything said goodbye to us, everything goes away.
Memory does not stamp his own coin.
However, there is something that stays
however, there is something that bemoans.
Jorge Luis Borges We are the Time We are the Famous
April 12, 2013
San Carlos de Bariloche is a colourful place. It’s a mecca for tourists in summer time for activities on and associated with the Nahuel Huapi lake, as well as, in winter for skiing. The name is a combination of ”Carlos Wiederhold”, who settled down the first general store in the area (that is what “San Carlos” stands for), and a deformation of the word “vuriloche” (“different people, people from the back or from the other side”), used by the Mapuche people to refer to other native dwellers from the eastern zone of the Andes Mountain Range before their own arrival in this region. Not only are the buildings brightly coloured, the ’elastic bandages’ around the tree stems are of the same ilk. I hadn’t come across ‘tea cosies’ before but this is what they are called.
Many threads of differing colours.
The canopies are changing to autumn tones – fruits, berries and foliage – somehow creating an even more ‘surgical’ overall look with the bandaging of the main stem. The sorbus trees look glorious however.
In the capital, lovely blossoms on Ceiba speiosa or the Silk Floss Tree. The common name is palo borracho or drunken stick. Open pods follow the pink flowers showing silk-like fibers that give the tree its name.
And to finish, a short from Spike Milligan.
‘I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree’.
April 8, 2013
Back in the capital after days in more remote and rural areas – Patagonia and El Calafate in Santa Cruz (posts to follow) – the panorama from Sinclair 3168 takes in the Rey Fahd mosque with the Campo Argentino de Polo beyond. I had forgotten how the street trees are so imposing, also giving shade and the canopies giving a little breeze as well as adding something organic to the city fabric. Planes, acacias, tipa, jacaranda and limes plus other more exotic species line the pavements . . . .
. . . trees accentuate the cross axes and the junctions in Palermo Viejo, with their canopies spreading over the street cafes, bars and restaurants.
The facades of buildings, both old and new, are quite particular. I like the mix of some to revere and a few to smile at and with.
Tomorrow, a closer look at wall art , more decorative and with a narrative than graffiti, and the Parque de la Memoria.
At the crossroads of Calle Gurruchaga, we stopped for a while and watched the local clown perform and entertain – great fun . . . .
. . . and then back to sleep in a decent bed – bliss after nights on buses – and last glimpse at the city closing down – looks quite delicious. Too tired to write any more so leave Borges to finish off.
The forms in my dreams have changed;
now there are red houses side by side
and the delicate bronze of the leaves
and chaste winter and pious wood.
As on the seventh day, the world
is good. In the twilight there persists
what’s almost non-existent, bold, sad,
an ancient murmur of Bibles, war.
Soon (they say) the first snow will fall
America waits for me on every street,
but I feel in the decline of evening
today so long, and yesterday so brief
Buenos Aires, I go journeying
your streets, without time or reason. Borges New England 1967
April 2, 2013
Long journeys are a time for reflection. I rather enjoy the passivity of lounging around airport lounges, listening to music, people watching, reading and generally taking a view on areas of life. I write lots of notes that I never look at again but, I find this outpouring from my brain and soul, a therapeutic process. However, I’m not so keen on the business of travel connections - will this flight arrive on time to pick up the next easily? - will I make it across a city by bus to jump on the right plane? – do I have time to race from one terminal to another ? – this is the part of travelling that I find stressful. At Frankfurt – a very glamorous airport – no hassle and a 6 hour spell spent horizontal on the comfortable loungers that gently ripple and keep the circulation at the right level.
Early morning arrival at Buenos Aires – warm and sunny – and a trip across the city to catch the next flight. From the bus, a glimpse of the Plata and some fishing activity . . .
. . . from the terminal building, the proximity of the water makes an appealing landscape whilst inside, a memorial to servicemen who fell in the Malvinas makes me step back and ponder on the reasoning of the placement of this type of monument in such a busy concourse. Perhaps that’s the rationale: stop and think.
Flying above La Pampa, the beauty of the terrain . . . minimal human interference on the ground but we flying overhead disturb the environment nevertheless.
The final act is a show stopper – the Andes in full glory.
Down on the ground, the journey continues after catching up with a special couple. The three of us set off on The Old Patagonian Express for a short chug along the track through the flat dry landscape around El Maiten and Esquel. It’s a marvel of reconstruction and perseverance .Click to see the video of a derail.
Marvelling at the fittings and the minuteness of scale, decide that we are heavy, lumpen passengers. It’s time to get back on my feet and move all limbs and breathe in the good air around this tree filled landscape – try to lose the heaviness of the human body. The poem, ah well, somehow arriving by water might have been more exciting. The next leg is 28 hours on a bus . . .
Here is a coast; here is a harbor;
here, after a meager diet of horizon, is some scenery:
impractically shaped and–who knows?–self-pitying mountains,
sad and harsh beneath their frivolous greenery,
with a little church on top of one. And warehouses,
some of them painted a feeble pink, or blue,
and some tall, uncertain palms. Oh, tourist,
is this how this country is going to answer you
and your immodest demands for a different world,
and a better life, and complete comprehension
of both at last, and immediately,
after eighteen days of suspension?
Finish your breakfast. The tender is coming,
a strange and ancient craft, flying a strange and brilliant rag.
So that’s the flag. I never saw it before.
I somehow never thought of there being a flag,
but of course there was, all along. And coins, I presume,
and paper money; they remain to be seen.
And gingerly now we climb down the ladder backward,
myself and a fellow passenger named Miss Breen,
descending into the midst of twenty-six freighters
waiting to be loaded with green coffee beaus.
Please, boy, do be more careful with that boat hook!
Watch out! Oh! It has caught Miss Breen’s
skirt! There! Miss Breen is about seventy,
a retired police lieutenant, six feet tall,
with beautiful bright blue eyes and a kind expression.
Her home, when she is at home, is in Glens Fall
s, New York. There. We are settled.
The customs officials will speak English, we hope,
and leave us our bourbon and cigarettes.
Ports are necessities, like postage stamps, or soap,
but they seldom seem to care what impression they make,
or, like this, only attempt, since it does not matter,
the unassertive colors of soap, or postage stamps–
wasting away like the former, slipping the way the latter
do when we mail the letters we wrote on the boat,
either because the glue here is very inferior
or because of the heat. We leave Santos at once;
we are driving to the interior. Elizabeth Bishop Arrival at Santos