November 20, 2016
This is another way of looking. A different way of looking, absorbing and learning. The last post was a flutter through the senses – specifically how lyrical planting can be interwoven with musical tone. Now I thought to use the same gardens (recently visited precedents and still fresh in the mind) to appreciate the variation in the planting style. Great Dixter offers up a masterclass in structural planting housing eclectic mixes of seasonal supporting cast. Quite often sensational and always well judged in the proportion and scale of the planting groups as the photo above shows. It’s close by so I visit it frequently as a friend
I liked the theatricality and also responded to the dynamics of the Walled Kitchen Garden at West Dean and If I lived closer I would befriend it. Here functionality is foremost but very closely followed by the aesthetic – admire the husbandry and wallow in the beauty too . . .
. . . admire nerines – not to everyone’s taste – this pleasing arrangement inspires me to search for the more unusual, rather than the everyday knicker pink forms. Wayward actaeas bending over the low hedge in a shady bed contrast bizarrely with the summer beddding chrysanths + dahlias on the sunny side.
Produce in the glass houses is grown to maximise the fruiting and to please the eye. The necessary order and control seems to work in tandem with the delight of growing decorative plants too.
The Walled Garden at Marks Hall is purely decorative. A series of garden rooms flow through the middle level – designed for young and old with seating aligned to views out, the old fish ponds now a lake, and to the spaces incorporating play forms such as mounds and pits, balls and steps to balance and climb on plus an Alice in Wonderland planted tunnel. Horseshoes of hedging swirl across the obvious geometry – three dimensioned hard and planted surfaces but it is the asymmetry that makes this garden within a garden special and if I lived closer I’d become a friend just to enjoy . . .
. . . Peter Thurman‘s tree planting. Extra special.
Hauser and Wirth offers up this inside . . .
and this in the surrounding courtyard. Molinia ‘Moorhexe’, Sesleria autumnalis, cimicifuga, gillenia and deschampsia under the Celtis. Piet Oudolf’s planting is just enough to let the exterior space breathe.
And in his field – a gently sloping site – grassy raised mounds offer the visitor a path through the centre with massed planting of perennials and grasses moving in from the boundaries. A bold concept but poor functionally with signage preventing any access to the mounds. Interesting to see how these very large areas of planting read in the early months of the year. I would ‘friend’ the gallery if they need me.
Between going and staying
the day wavers,
in love with its own transparency.
The circular afternoon is now a bay
where the world in stillness rocks.
All is visible and all elusive,
all is near and can’t be touched.
Paper, book, pencil, glass,
rest in the shade of their names.
Time throbbing in my temples repeats
the same unchanging syllable of blood.
The light turns the indifferent wall
into a ghostly theater of reflections.
I find myself in the middle of an eye,
watching myself in its blank stare.
The moment scatters. Motionless,
I stay and go: I am a pause. Octavio Paz Between Going and Staying
April 5, 2016
A follow on post from this. And to set the scene: rivers of salvias – masses of Salvia ‘Amistad’ and S. uliginosa in late summer run riot through the planted areas around the park and the two areas of the festival site. Just wanted to acknowledge a couple more of the temporary garden installations that worked well. ‘À table’ – the theme of an edile table which recurs and never disappoints – to share a meal in the form of a garden party but, here, seated on benches with carnivorous plants suspended as lights over the long refectory table packed with old species of edibles,produced by pollination, so unsuitable for large scale cultivation – black tomatoes, purple peppers, violet cauliflowers and climbing spinach . . .
. . . the planting, edging the garden, reverts to the ever popular flowery mead style.
‘Cuisine Africaine’ showcased edible plants and seeds from the African bushveld required for the survival of human, insect and animal life.
Centre stage in this garden was a spectacular metal and wire wrapped sculpture – a homage to the significance of the Boabab tree in this landscape – the canopy offering shade for villagers and travellers. A place to meet, to rest and to eat under. Leon Kluge built a good garden.
Farfugium japonicum, an evergreen ligularia, looking resplendent in containers in the hospitality area. An extremely French look – but beware as this plant needs copious watering grown like this.
In the Prés du Goauloup, a large flat area of landscaped park adjacent to the festival site, some of the garden installations from previous years have been relocated; many are Chinese . . .
. . . the red ribbon of ‘Carré et Rond’ or ‘land and sky’ integrates the contemporary concept of storm water management with the philosophical ideas of the link with man to water in traditional Chinese garden. Designed by Yu Konglian for the 2012 festival.
I find this poplar group very pleasing and, equally interesting, is a site specific installation by Chris Drury called ‘Carbon Pool’ – a magnetic spiral of felled cedar lengths capturing some of the Goualoup Park secrets and appearing to drag them down into the earth.
New planting of Liquidambers make a seasonal frame.
Selected existing mature trees are partnered with sculptural but also practical landscape elements . . .
. . . leaving the festival but looking forard to the next event. views across the Loire river beyond the fiery Rhus – a willow and poplar landscape just losing the green and softening to yellow.
I have built a house in the middle of the Ocean
Its windows are the rivers flowing from my eyes
Octopi are crawling all over where the walls are
Hear their triple hearts beat and their beaks peck against the windowpanes
House of dampness
House of burning
The airplanes are laying eggs
Watch out for the dropping of the anchor
Watch out for the shooting black ichor
It would be good if you were to come from the sky
The sky’s honeysuckle is climbing
The earthly octopi are throbbing
And so very many of us have become our own gravediggers
Pale octopi of the chalky waves O octopi with pale beaks
Around the house is this ocean that you know well
And is never still. Guillaume Apollinaire
Ocean of Earth to G.de Chrico.
March 12, 2016
A jaunt out above the gorges to see if the new seedling growth of the ferula is showing and, yes, frothy and fresh in tone, carpeting the ground around the forebears which are still strong but wonderfully light to hold as the stems are hollow now . . .
. . . young ferula growth here mixed in with low, lime green euphorbia, but the taller Euphorbia wulfenii also claims attention. A black-eyed form and perhaps crossed with others to form E. x martini . . .
. . . Iris pumila – in papal cloth and in soft yellow – stop me in my tracks, not only to admire visually but, also to avoid squashing them where they sprout through the stony path.
By le Castellas and at Table de Lecture de Paysage, the view forces the eyes to lift up away from studying up from studying the minutiae on the ground to this tableau – the river Gard flowing in a cup shaped curve; a quite splendid panorama . . .
. . . as it enters from the west beyond Russan and beyond Anduze . . .
. . . and as it moves to the east flow under Pont Saint – Nicolas and then under Pont du Gard before entering the Rhone. Some folks do other physical and challenging pursuits here but I just gaze.
How the tiny narcissus occupy this terrain and how enjoyable they are . . . so it’s eyes down again and especially when the path becomes a solid sponge like form of limestone. Perhaps it’s more like walking on a giant food grater.
Then again the view demands attention. Pont Saint-Nicolas and surroundings can only be enjoyed from this high aspect – there is nowhere to park nearby – hurrah.
Back in Vic, Commune de Ste Anastasie, grave stones neatly placed on the church wall face a flowering Rosa banksiae – my first this year on March 4th- and a wall hosting Umbilicus rapestris – great texture contrasts.
The poem reads like an old song or fairy tale to me – but no claim is made on this landscape but just simple grateful appreciation.
walking by the waters
down where an honest river
shakes hands with the sea,
a woman passed round me
in a slow, watchful circle,
as if I were a superstition;
or the worst dregs of her imagination,
so when she finally spoke
her words spliced into bars
of an old wheel. A segment of air.
Where do you come from?
‘Here,’ I said, ‘Here. These parts.’ Jackie Kay In My Country
January 14, 2016
After seemingly interminable rain, hallelujah a bright day dawns – of course chilly and crisp and more than refreshing; but appetising nonetheless. The beach at Pett Level is hidden from the road by the sea wall so the view across the Military Canal to the rising land has no competition. Visually superb from a distance and also excellent at close quarters for those strolling through.
Over the sea wall, a different and equally pleasing landscape is laid out. The tide is coming in as the sun strikes short shadows and highlights the textures of the beach stones . . .
. . . sandstones of varying size contrast with finer shingle and the smooth islands of dark peat. An ancient forest lies below the water and can be seen occasionally below Cliff End revealing timber with a soft spongy texture as against the also exposed rigidly hard wood used in the old sea defences The rhythm of the tide has left an elegant and informal wandering edge as though Poseidon has run a finger along the coastline . . .
Small waders leave their mark – turnstones and oyster catchers perhaps – searching for delicacies and holding their own among the herring gulls.
Nothing has been ‘done’ to these pix . . . clouds arrive and the sky to the east wears a dark violet cloak now . . .
. . . but remains clearer to the west with a freezing wind which meant power walking back to the sheltered lower level and a favourite view across the marsh inhabited by coots and curlews and the odd cormorant – and the sheep of course. Edward Thomas, my father’s favourite poet assisting here on a special day. January 14th 1910
Out of us all
That make rhymes
Will you choose
As the winds use
A crack in a wall
Or a drain,
Their joy or their pain
To whistle through –
You English words?
I know you:
You are light as dreams,
Tough as oak,
Precious as gold,
As poppies and corn,
Or an old cloak:
Sweet as our birds
To the ear,
As the burnet rose
In the heat
Strange as the races
Of dead and unborn:
Strange and sweet
To the eye,
As the dearest faces
That a man knows,
And as lost homes are:
But though older far
Than oldest yew, –
As our hills are, old, –
Again and again:
Young as our streams
And as dear
As the earth which you prove
That we love.
Make me content
With some sweetness
Have no wings, –
From Wiltshire and Kent
And Herefordshire, –
And the villages there, –
From the names, and the things
Let me sometimes dance
Or stand perchance
Fixed and free
In a rhyme,
As poets do. Edward Thomas Words
February 2, 2015
Today is Candlemas or la Chandeleur, the midpoint between the winter solstice and spring equinox- the pagan festival of light when the churches blessed their candles. Snow is forecast so a prompt to get out . . . and walk down from Goult through the pine and white oak scrub covering Les Terrasses to the valley of Lumieres. Poplars, planes and some willow line the river here – delicate ivy clings on its upward journey . . .
. . . a solitary young soldier on a plinth. As yet I have failed to come up with identification. Maybe a question in the epicerie will supply an answer. On the plinth: ‘Ge suis venne au roi de France de par la Vierge Marie”.
Scrambling up the Mange Tian ( a regional cooking vessel at the first level of research – the shape of?? or where food was offered??) – precipitous, slippery but exhilarating climb to the plateau covered with pines . . . and a few bories that young master H. Dupont Fogg would love to investigate . . .
. . . dry stone walls retaining the terraced land and also free standing structures as boundaries. Some ruins of a hamlet . . . about 6 houses clustered here no doubt with livestock – cereal growing, olives, vines and other crops – on the open plateau. The terrain would have been intensely farmed enough to sustain a small community. Now holm oak and the white oak have regenerated to cover the land and the lack of light is evident.
. . . where nature has started the process of reoccupation.
The journey along the narrow paths has dramatic interludes when and where unstable or tired trees perform their dance of death. More dancing from those lively specimens alongside too – all elbows, hips and flashing legs . . .
. . . and then a solitary sign of another wasted object left to rot – Citroen Ami? Interesting that the lichen and algae have inhabited the surface – shows how clean the air is.
Down and beyonds lies an area called Les Fenêtres Rouges where the ochre landscape sits centre stage. This occurs intermittently within this intimate terrain but always surprises visually and evocatively . . . No other souls around. Bliss.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference. Robert Frost The Road not Taken.
January 7, 2015
The terraces in Oppède-le-Vieux hold a decent collection of native plants – all labelled with correct nomenclature and explanation for herbal or culinary use if applicable – but it’s difficult to concentrate on these when the panorama is so splendid – the Luberon valley, Mont Ventoux and part of the Vaucluse – like tiers of old stage flats punctuated with pencil slim cypress. Clients often express the misguided notion that trees will block the view but there are ways of planting trees to emphasise the view as shown here . . .
These terraces are dedicated to Sainte Cécile. Flat plates of Umbilicus rupestris – navelwort – are springing forth now in the crevices not only here but in many dry stone walls in the area. Below is the site of the old threshing floor – aire de battage – now an angular foot print but originally it would have been circular so more practical for the tethered animal to do his or her circuit.
From here, the old village is seen spread across the north facing side of the Petit Luberon. The winter sun starts casting its shadow by midday so houses beyond the medieval ramparts are dark, humid and tricky to maintain apparently. The domination of the restored church of Notre-Dame-D’Alidon and the ruins of the castle are felt from a distance as well as within the village streets. I found it a charming and quirky place and many others have enjoyed it and settled here. Following the armistice of June 1940, architect Bernard Zehrfuss founded a commune of artists in the old town, a project that attracted French sculptor François Stahly and the writer and artist Consuelo de Saint Exupéry. The commune proved short-lived but, interestingly, it was the basis for Saint Exupéry’s fictionalized account, published in 1946, called ‘Kingdom of the Rocks’.
Looking at close up details, the clock and bell tower on the town hall and then at even more smaller scale . . .
. . . a statuette, religious of course, as the Popes, based in Avignon, dabbled religiously and relentlessly here. The main route up to the church and castle was the village street; access points of the wash houses and modest homes are still evident . . .
. . . they retain a theatrical feel (like a discarded film set) of the past – very beautiful and evocative. In the 19th century, the inhabitants had enough and started to move down in the valley, dismantling the roof of their houses to stop paying property taxes. By the beginning of the 20th century, Oppède-le-Vieux was a ghost village and a new community was officially established in the valley, with larger streets, cosier houses and farmers closer to their fields – the new village – Oppède-les-Poulivets (“nice view” in Provençal),
The Chapel of the White Penitents is set half way up the stepped ramp path, beautifully laid, and then, in the full light at the summit sits the church (12C) and the medieval fortress.
Spacious steps with integrated landings below cantilevered gargoyles lead to a rocky unmanicured area where temporary safety fencing protects the castle – an engineered structure integrated within the natural environment. Work due to start in 2015.
A line of Renaissance villas line the north facing rock face – a mix of superbe, mysterious and the fairytale. Glamorous and expensive.
Sitting in the cemetery, something I do in a regular fashion, and looking beyond the walls, the tiers of vegetation – ivy in flower, Viburnum tinus in berry, olive, oak and pine gave me goosebumps. And then the surface of the wall, encrusted with stonecrop. Marvellous.
Despite the open window in the room of long absence, the odor of the rose is still linked with the breath that was there. Once again we are without previous experience, newcomers, in love. The rose! The field of its ways would dispel even the effrontery of death. No grating stands in the way. Desire is alive, an ache in our vaporous foreheads.
One who walks the earth in its rains has nothing to fear from the thorn in places either finished or unfriendly. But if he stops to commune with himself, woe! Pierced to the quick, he suddenly flies to ashes, an archer reclaimed by beauty. René Char.
December 16, 2014
The ochre path that extends along the Luberon foothills around Roussillon to Gargas is quite special – originally quarried and now conserved and returned, as much as it can be with many visitors, back to nature. Glimpses of the red earth hillsides are quite tantalising from the surroundings . . . but once inside, the experience becomes a theatrical drama – like walking through a turmeric landscape with mature and fresh young pines – Pinus sylvestris, P. halepensis and Pinus pinaster (the maritime pine) – offering overhead foliage and a lime green ground cover texture. I’m still interested in the spatial areas where visitors can relax and get to grips with the environment, take it all in or just have a good chat. Here oak is used for the stepped circulation, seats and decks along with cor ten steel for the slim protecting elements like hand rails, bridge supports and gates . . . . . . a slim juvenile pine just holding on in the landform. Another vertical tower of the red earth looks like a drunken pepper pot . . . . . . a visual experience and a good walk too. The rationale behind including the Beckett beside his visit here is that there has been discussion on what is boring – life in general – time away from work – lack of social contact – just preferring to be elsewhere – to me, he explains eruditely in the last 3 phrases exactly why I feel so much at home – here; in a convulsive space among the voices voiceless that throng my hiddenness and the whole poem: que ferais-je sans ce monde sans visage sans questions où être ne dure qu’un instant où chaque instant verse dans le vide dans l’oubli d’avoir été sans cette onde où à la fin corps et ombre ensemble s’engloutissent que ferais-je sans ce silence gouffre des murmures haletant furieux vers le secours vers l’amour sans ce ciel qui s’élève sur la poussieère de ses lests que ferais-je je ferais comme hier comme aujourd’hui regardant par mon hublot si je ne suis pas seul à errer et à virer loin de toute vie dans un espace pantin sans voix parmi les voix enfermées avec moi what would I do without this world faceless incurious where to be lasts but an instant where every instant spills in the void the ignorance of having been without this wave where in the end body and shadow together are engulfed what would I do without this silence where the murmurs die the pantings the frenzies towards succour towards love without this sky that soars above its ballast dust what would I do what I did yesterday and the day before peering out of my deadlight looking for another wandering like me eddying far from all the living in a convulsive space among the voices voiceless that throng my hiddenness Samuel Beckett que ferais-je sans ce monde (what would I do without this world)