May 23, 2016
a short visit to friends just south of Florence. vineyard and olive groves spread across their property retained in practical flat ribbons – some grass mown and some left long with decorative results . . .
. . . old olives are retained if they are single stem but those from the bad frost some years ago are being removed and replaced with fresh young plants.
Around the buildings, the owners prefer to leave the fluffy growth on the canopy. Pleasing contrasting textures in this composition . . .
. . . and also on the cork oak.
In Pienza, narrow views out to the wonderful countryside even on a cold and cloudy May day. Who gave these streets such pretty names?
Many years ago we designed this pool garden within what once was a walled kitchen garden. Simple, clean lines, reflections, peaceful – what more to say? only that these friends understand importance of good management; many clients do not.
The love of the place and the people who inhabit it – this is the reason behind the choice of the poem.
The tumult in the heart
keeps asking questions.
And then it stops and undertakes to answer
in the same tone of voice.
No one could tell the difference.
Uninnocent, these conversations start,
and then engage the senses,
only half-meaning to.
And then there is no choice,
and then there is no sense;
until a name
and all its connotation are the same. Elizabeth Bishop
May 15, 2016
In Nimes, it’s feria – a great big party based around the bulls . . . bull fighting . . . bull running . . . and other bull events. These are not for me but I do like a festive occasion. On the way up the esplanade through the stalls of food and of clothing, I came across young girls perfectly turned out but hanging around in informal queues . . .
. . . waiting to take the stage and perform with their instructor, or was she a judge? Whatever she was big personality . . .
. . . we were all transfixed by her charisma.
Around the fountain, horse men and woman, from Uzès perfomed with impressive skill . . .
. . . and another formidable horse woman was also centre stage.
Crowds overflowed into the street around the bodegas . . .
. . . full of bonhomie. Beer and sangria flowing but no one seemed to show after effects . . .
. . . and musicians started impromptu concerts . . .
. . . full of fun and some performers showing superb skills.
It opens, the gate to the garden
with the docility of a page
that frequent devotion questions
and inside, my gaze
has no need to fix on objects
that already exist, exact, in memory.
I know the customs and souls
and that dialect of allusions
that every human gathering goes weaving.
I’ve no need to speak
nor claim false privilege;
they know me well who surround me here,
know well my afflictions and weakness.
This is to reach the highest thing,
that Heaven perhaps will grant us:
not admiration or victory
but simply to be accepted
as part of an undeniable Reality,
like stones and trees. Jorge Luis Borges
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.
April 5, 2016
Prevarication – that’s the problem or is it an excuse? Or plain laziness? Anyway time to acknowledge a garden that was, but is now gone. A little explanation: ‘The Savage Garden’ designed by 4 students from University of Greenwich landscape architecture/garden design course was selected to form part of the 2015 International Festival of Gardens at Chaumont on the Loire. The design was edited by Jamie Liversedge – senior tutor – with just a little help from me and built by students and Jamie + myself. Here he is talking about the garden . . .
. . . and the image above shows the site last April just before the opening of the festival – all other images show the garden in September just before the closure. The theme was ‘collections’ and the selection jury including Maestro Patrick Blanc defined the collection to be plant based. Le Jardin Sauvage – tropical, a jungle, somewhere to get lost in, a refuge, where wildlife inhabit the overhead canopies, where Le Douanier Rousseau would have felt entirely at home – was a challenge not necessarily to build but to plant. The plants required time to envelop the site even though we selected some large specimens but over the time span of the festival, the growth of the planting was successful. The expectation was achieved. An angled route over crushed broken tile lead through lush foliage highlighted with brilliant flower colour across a bridge and under rusty steel arches – red was important in the colour palette from early on in the design stage. A few images . . .
. . . Mina lobata clambers over the steel reinforcing bar arch structure with a dark tender pennisetum covering the ground.
Cannas, hedychiums and begonias eventually came to the party. It looked good and the festival staff and visitors appreciated the concept and the finished result.
Another garden that caught my eye (really the best in the festival, for me) Le Jardin du Teinturier – a dyer’s esate probably in Marrakech – where the utilities of plants and the pigments extruded from berries, stems and roots were shown in a cinematically installation. It was perfection – well ordered, inspiring and beautifully designed . . .
. . . striking berries of Arbutus.
The gardens were eclectic in character under the umbrella of a given concept – always thought provoking and surprising. ‘Réflexion d’un Collectionneur’ – a garden based on nature in a garden around a museum or gallery where the visitor views without knowing what lies beyond. Enticing – paintings or mirrored panels show the world behind the viewer. Is it a secret garden or a museum collection? Whatever, it was very clever.
Carnivorous plants were centre stage in a few gardens and this perforated screen shown below in Le Collectionneur de L’ombre was pleasing – a collection of ferns needed shade. The poem, well, a jungly romp with Spike Milligan that conveys the fun aspect of Le Jardin Sauvage. To follow a few more images and words on other parts of the festival.
On the Ning Nang Nong
Where the Cows go Bong!
and the monkeys all say BOO!
There’s a Nong Nang Ning
Where the trees go Ping!
And the tea pots jibber jabber joo.
On the Nong Ning Nang
All the mice go Clang
And you just can’t catch ’em when they do!
So its Ning Nang Nong
Cows go Bong!
Nong Nang Ning
Trees go ping
Nong Ning Nang
The mice go Clang
What a noisy place to belong
is the Ning Nang Ning Nang Nong!! Spike Milligan
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
December 21, 2015
Been quite lazy on the blog front but then it’s good to take time out and breath. These two sitting outside Patisseries Orientales in Boulevards des Allies looked relaxed about life too. Saturday morning in Uzès means MARKET and although having been here a few weeks now, it is my first visit. My trustworthy confidante advised that a trip to Friday’s market in San Quentin is more authentic and cheaper – she’s right as always – but under murky skies, the market stalls along the Boulevard and in Place aux Herbes glistened like jewels and it was sort of fun . . .
. . . fleurs turned into chou-fleur and magnificent frisées.
Wandering back down Rue Grande Bourgade where solanum continues to flower, I was grateful to this gentleman as he completed the composition – if only there was some sun and therefore some shadows.
A vine over an entrance at 32 is most sculptural and well managed – reminds me of a Pekingese fringe. And yes, the tantalising mimosa came home. Just checked and 4 years ago I was here with important beings.
Le soleil est toujours riant,
Depuis qu’il part de l’orient
Pour venir éclairer le monde.
Jusqu’à ce que son char soit descendu dans l’onde
La vapeur des brouillards ne voile point les cieux ;
Tous les matins un vent officieux
En écarte toutes les nues :
Ainsi nos jours ne sont jamais couverts ;
Et, dans le plus fort des hivers,
Nos campagnes sont revêtues
De fleurs et d’arbres toujours verts.
Les ruisseaux respectent leurs rives,
Et leurs naïades fugitives
Sans sortir de leur lit natal,
Errent paisiblement et ne sont point captives
Sous une prison de cristal.
Tous nos oiseaux chantent à l’ordinaire,
Leurs gosiers n’étant point glacés ;
Et n’étant pas forcés
De se cacher ou de se taire,
Ils font l’amour en liberté.
L’hiver comme l’été.
Enfin, lorsque la nuit a déployé ses voiles,
La lune, au visage changeant,
Paraît sur un trône d’argent,
Et tient cercle avec les étoiles,
Le ciel est toujours clair tant que dure son cours,
Et nous avons des nuits plus belles que vos jours. Racine
The Sun is always laughing,
since he moved from the East
to come light up the world.
Up to what his chariot is down in the wave
of mist steam sailing point heaven;
Every morning an unofficial wind makes all naked:
so our days are never covered.
And in the height of winter,
our campaigns are coated with
flowers and evergreen trees.
Streams meet their shores,
and their fugitive naiades
without leaving their natal bed,
wander peacefully and are point
captive in a prison of Crystal.
All our birds are singing in the ordinary,
their throats being point iced;
And not being forced to hide or shut,
they make love in freedom.
The winter and the summer.
Finally, when night has deployed its sails,
the Moon, in the changing face,
appears on a silver throne,
and holds circle with the stars,
the sky is always clear as long as takes its course,
and we have most beautiful nights that your days.