c park

The Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve has over 267 hectares of ancient woodland, heathland and grassland together with 3 miles (5km) of cliffs and coastline.  Set within  the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, most of the park has been designated a Special Area of Conservation, a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is a designated Local Nature Reserve. All this sets the scene for the peaceful and also should go someway to explain the problem that is occuring and identified at the end of this post. I thought to walk from Fairlight Place, down Barley  Lane where the verges are full now of a natural tapestry (the dog rose are especially glorious now – the oaks always) offering views through to the pasture only occasionally . . .

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. . . which make them special.

 

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Warm weather following months of rain mean wonderful growth on all plants. The interface of verge to stream to grasslands and meadows merge sublimely. Pieces of construction that are manmade are mainly of galvanised material . . .

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. . . but sculptural elements that emanate from nature are there too.

Some organised by man and some where nature is in control.

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Ivy exploring the oak, ash and sycamore make interesting organic compositions in Covehurst Woods and then the big view

opens across Lee Ness Ledge to Dungeness.

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Turning up the track into Long Shaw and the meandering incline to Dripping Well, clumps of  ferns  are looking spectacular. The ancestors of these were dug up, potted up and taken by train to Covent Garden market in Victorian and Edwardian times. The sound is of gushing and falling water. and the visual is lush foliage, dappled shade, patches of sun and, on this occasion, a  single fox with a light brown coat, just pausing unperturbed on the path to watch and gauge before disappearing elegantly into the

undergrowth.

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The westerly  end of the Country Park at Ecclesbourne Glen is less peaceful recently.  The owners of Rocklands (caravan park) have erected a ‘bunker’, removed trees (which may have caused a landslip and therefore the closure of paths) and increased the number of mobile homes directly interfacing the park landscape. This has been done illegally but the owners have applied for retrospective planning which they may well obtain. The ‘bunker’ has been constructed on the footprint of a single storey building and so obstructs the pleasing views that locals and visitors were able to enjoy. As the council are custodians of the Country Park, we feel aggrieved and have received little useful communication. A peaceful protest in the form of a Sunday picnic was organised and enjoyed by 200 folk who love the park and appreciate not only nature but also this particular and special coastal environment. No representatives, elected council or from the government joined us. The ‘bunker’ is shown below and then an image of festive picnic. And someone made a video of the proceedings and the story to date  (thank you Bob + Peter). Click and listen  – it’s worth it.  Ah, little stone – how simple life should be.

building  picnic

How happy is the little Stone

That rambles in the Road alone,

And doesn’t care about Careers

And Exigencies never fears —

Whose Coat of elemental Brown

A passing Universe put on,

And independent as the Sun

Associates or glows alone,

Fulfilling absolute Decree

In casual simplicity — Emily Dickinson

november and the sun is warm

November 10, 2013

swimmer

We woke up to warm sun this Sunday and it was most welcome following torrential rain and a storm ten days ago. Standing in the attic window, I spied a swimmer doing a fast crawl towards the pier – wondered if the sea was warm too – and was a little relieved to see him exit the water about 30 minutes later.

groynes

The storm threw the pebbles over the lower promenade disguising the division between beach and tarmac  . . .

beach

the burnt out pier

. .  . strong shadows on the soft, sandy, lower stretch . . .

shadows

. . .  all the crunch is now higher up mixed with seaweed drying out and crisping up.

balustrade

seaweed

Taking this shot, I start to notice the cracks and fissures in the concrete oversail . . .

pier

. . and conscious of Cornelia Parker, having watched and been influenced by her episode in What Do Artists Do All Day, started to take more detailed shots .  . . .

cracks

cracks 2

. . and then I started to think what I was going to do with the photographs – time will tell.

paint

cracks + view

Down in Hastings, the Herring Fair should have drawn in many visitors to compensate for the washout of yesterday. Sonny had some fine kippers – a pair are in the fridge. Yum.

kippers

Wild nights – Wild nights!

Were I with thee

Wild nights should be

Our luxury!

Futile – the winds –

To a Heart in port –

Done with the Compass –

Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden –

Ah – the Sea!

Might I but moor – tonight –

In thee! Emily Dickinson  Wild Nights

front meadow

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.

cenolophium 1

In the Sunk Garden, a mass of Cenolophium, unusual placing in a confined space – but it works.

cenolophium 2

cenolophium denudatum

pool garden

The division  – brickwork and planting – between the Sunk Garden and the Wall Garden, contains a bold combination of magenta lychnis + small dark dahlia.

lychnis + dahlia

long border1

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.

long border fennel + vrebascum

verbascum + e primrose 2

Quite lovely pale evening primrose in this composition . . . .

verbascum + althea

verbascum + e primrose 2

. . . and a stronger coloured form stands up well with purple tones.

verbascum + oasts

e primrose stipa

Across the Cat Garden, shimmers of stipa flowers bridge the gap between the perennial layer and the yew hedging.

hydrangea

The growth especially of perennials in the Orchard Garden is overwhelming and luxurient. . . .

pear, salvia turkestanica

. . and right at the furthest boundary of the Vegetable Garden,sits a long thin border packed with matrix planting.  Jewel like perfection.

matrix bed 1

matrix 3

matrix 2

The use of colour here has always been bold – it takes confidence to mix these 2 tones of blue with a touch of cerise . . .

corn flowers

. .  but a more obvious tried and tested combination of yellow flowering ferula, purple clematis and soft pink rose.

fennel clematis

inula + cal KF

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 . . .

euphorbia

. . and teazles with onions.

allium + dipsacus

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

malus 1

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 . . .

fraxinus

4woven fence

. .  delicate touch on the woven fence – just enough for the country setting. Stacks/heaps/piles of hazel and… and … other timber.

6 wood heaps

7 walnut

Into the Front Meadow carpeted now with camassia.

8 camassias + yew hedge

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 . . .

9 sweeties

. . . and Miscanthus who is about 6 months old. She’s very sweet.

10 new sweetie

11 birds

Strolling around to the Peacock Garden and the Carnival of Birds – my rename of Daisy Lloyd’s Parliament of Birds  . . .  I see the first of many Ferula with main stalk thrusting skywards.

12 ferula

A few views from the Cat Garden, High Garden and the Orchard Garden in no particular order.

13 view

14 view

15 view

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 . . .

16 meadow

. . and on down the Long Border where a snapshot of the strong colour combinations  that Christo enjoyed was framed.

17 house

18 exotic

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.

19 climber

last

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

modern collection

I like spaces in galleries and museums that feel like living rooms – relaxing into an easy chair, picking up a magazine, book or sheet of notes relating to the exhibits brings a whole new dimension to the experience. In the Fondation Calvet, the 20 C collection is hung in the Victor Martin room with  Vlaminck, Soutine, Chabaud well represented together with a quite lovely Bonnard ‘Jour d’hiver’. Crisp morning light floods the rooms, bouncing off glass and perspex surfaces to multiply shapes and colours in other dimensions. The only three dimensional form is a Masque Iba from Nigeria with a dramatic headdress or maybe just a skilful coiffure . . .

mask

. . the sculpture gallery with double aspect and marble floor is 18C. It provides an environment for the neo-classical figures with a fragile quality. Touch it or make too loud a noise and it’ll shatter. A graceful staircase carries the visitor to the first floor of this once privately owned mansion in Rue Joseph Vernet in Avignon. The gallery and sumptuously grand 19C salon house an eclectic mix of paintings and sculptures . . . .

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staircase 2

staircase

1st floor

. . . views down to the courtyard show the usual, simple and correct contained landscape. Fussiness in planting is not required with such stylish architecture. So the role of the garden is for tree planting to provide shade under which to relax in the hot Provence summer sun and  . . .  mentioned by Stendhal as ” large trees of the garden”  in his Memories of a Tourist.

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To the north, the humble arched portal of a side access is dwarfed now by more recent bâtiments.

exterieur

The foundation contains objects, paintings, tapestries, faïence, bronzes, books, coins and decorative metalwork accumulated by 2 enlightened benefactors, Esprit Calvet and Marcel Puech. Calvet also collected ancient Egyptian artefacts. The solemnity of the aura surrounding the display of these was broken by a party of young school children doing a lot of colouring in on fact sheets. Giggles, some tears and general hubbub of teaching and maintaining order passed around the cased mummies until suddenly, just before midday, the little people made a fast exit leaving a sense of calm to re-establish once again.

mummies

mummies2

mummies3

Small alabaster urns have their own presence set neatly within recesses as do the monumental vases in the entrance.

urns

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The winter sun is low and hardly touches the ground plane of the calade pebbles from the Rhone bed. Laid as a decorative carpet using only stones with brown tones.

front

How the light invades the Romantic room where the painting that was the talk of the 1850 salon is hung.

final

It sounded as if the Streets were running

And then – the Streets stood still –

Eclipse – was all we could see at the Window

And Awe – was all we could feel.

By and by – the boldest stole out of his Covert

To see if Time was there –

Nature was in an Opal Apron,

Mixing fresher Air.    Emily Dickinson

from the rear

August 19, 2012

There’s something about seeing the rear of figures in a composition that is very satisfying. It helps me relate foreground to background. I like the simple postures, the lack of having to interact with facial expression and the sense of the unknown – people caught in their own world. Is it wrong to make use of the human race in this way?

Bits of machinery start to enter into the shots – side views and front views now. The backside of the VW van was no contest against the frontage . . .

A lone black backed gull surveys the shallows at low tide. that’s enough!

To flee from memory
Had we the Wings
Many would fly
Inured to slower things
Birds with dismay
Would scan the mighty van
Of men escaping
From the mind of man. Emily Dickinson  To Flee from Memory

very close to home

August 6, 2012

Well, this post is entirely selfish – and a start on some visual notes that I need to record well ahead of the end of this sojourn – and yes, somewhat melancholic. But, also revelling in great enjoyment of the events that happen within this landscape. The events are mostly horticultural. There’s plenty of time, thank goodness, to absorb the changes in this close environment. This tree grows into the first floor of the house. the roots willl probably undermine the foundations – it’s hugely important – full of birds in early summer and increases the movement of  air in to the 1st + 2nd floor rooms. I can catch hold of the branches from all the windows and balconies and love to do so.  It is a Celtis. Graceful, non flowering, tough, reliable – is that enough to warrant selection for potential schemes? Yes, it is!

The strong thrusting growth of bupleurum- covering hill sides now, with the mustardy limey green umbels – small flat plates – floating on unassuming and waxy foliage and stems. Especially great visually bouncing off the silver foliage of olive trees. A good stand of olives here planted correctly on a grid. Well shaped canopies – set against the holm oak woodland backcloth. And with fruiting blackberries – mmm !

Clematis flammula is now covered in seed heads – what a great contribution it makes the ground layer here – early in leaf in April and then smothered in white flowers from June to August. Now, puffy in texture with a cobweb is caught within the seiderdown layer.  Mixtures of grasses – oaty and wheaty – line the lanes.

As the light drops, wildflowers and grasses on the uncultivated land, invite the gentle caress . . . .

. . . unlike the cactus. This sits below a bridge, almost hidden,  in uncultivated ground. Quite incongruous . . . .

. .  more understandable is the village pump, still recognisable as an engineered feature, under the very old silver lime. Maybe there were more of these trees – how lovely if this was so . . . enjoying  the big skies and expanses of light . . .

. . . this village, along with most in Languedoc, is set within an imprint of 2, or maybe, 4 crosses. I find I notice them now, and indeed, look for them entering other small habitations.

The morning glory – gorgeous, voluptuous and exotic – to be admired at opening time and allowed to sleep at closing time.

“Nature” is what we see—
The Hill—the Afternoon—
Squirrel—Eclipse— the Bumble bee—
Nay—Nature is Heaven—
Nature is what we hear—
The Bobolink—the Sea—
Thunder—the Cricket—
Nay—Nature is Harmony—
Nature is what we know—
Yet have no art to say—
So impotent Our Wisdom is
To her Simplicity. Emily Dickinson  Nature Is.

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