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950 year anniversary of a ‘Good Thing’ (1066 and all that: a memorable history of england. yeatman + sellar). The town celebrates this after voting for Brexit which many think, was an acknowledgement for the predicament that the fishing fleet had found itself in during years within the EU.  So, to stop being conquered and thus able to become ‘top nation’ again, has a new meaning . . . mmmm . . .

1-filo

. . . here sheltering from the rain by The First Inn Last Out pub, we await the procession.  The rain stops and here it comes down the Old Town High Street . . .

2-filo

. . . drumming, shouting, clapping, explosions. This event continues in a Sussex town every week until November 5th when Lewes holds the culmination bonfire event celebrating and commemorating the burning of protestant martyrs and of a papal effigy following Pope Pius’ decision to restore the Catholic hierarchy. Images and models – guys – of  popular hate figures were placed at the pinnacle of the bonfire. Some discussed who might be honoured this year . . .

3-filo

4-filo

. . .  costumes are important, as are masks. There is an order for who wears what in the procession, for example, those dressed in striped smugglers tops should process before anyone in black tail coat. This year, a few Normans, but mostly it’s a motley collection and with surprisingly a good few tiny sleeping tots in push chairs – the overall feel is of bonhomie.

6-filo

 

8filo

7-filo

The crowd follow the procession to the Stade where the bonfire is lit and then the explosions, in the sky, commence. Great evening.

The poem needs to be read with any sort of English country accent that you can muster.

9-stade

12-stade

11-stade

I’ll tell of the Battle of Hastings,
As happened in days long gone by,
When Duke William became King of England,
And ‘Arold got shot in the eye.
It were this way – one day in October
The Duke, who were always a toff
Having no battles on at the moment,
Had given his lads a day off.
They’d all taken boats to go fishing,
When some chap in t’ Conqueror’s ear
Said ‘Let’s go and put breeze up the Saxons;’
Said Bill – ‘By gum, that’s an idea’.
Then turning around to his soldiers,
He lifted his big Norman voice,
Shouting – ‘Hands up who’s coming to England.’
That was swank ‘cos they hadn’t no choice.
They started away about tea-time –
The sea was so calm and so still,
And at quarter to ten the next morning
They arrived at a place called Bexhill.King ‘Arold came up as they landed –
His face full of venom and ‘ate –
He said ‘lf you’ve come for Regatta
You’ve got here just six weeks too late.’At this William rose, cool but ‘aughty,
And said ‘Give us none of your cheek;
You’d best have your throne re-upholstered,
I’ll be wanting to use it next week.’

When ‘Arold heard this ‘ere defiance,
With rage he turned purple and blue,
And shouted some rude words in Saxon,
To which William answered – ‘And you.’

‘Twere a beautiful day for a battle;
The Normans set off with a will,
And when both sides was duly assembled,
They tossed for the top of the hill.

King ‘Arold he won the advantage,
On the hill-top he took up his stand,
With his knaves and his cads all around him,
On his ‘orse with his ‘awk in his ‘and.

The Normans had nowt in their favour,
Their chance of a victory seemed small,
For the slope of the field were against them,
And the wind in their faces an’ all.

The kick-off were sharp at two-thirty,
And soon as the whistle had went
Both sides started banging each other
‘Til the swineherds could hear them in Kent.

The Saxons had best line of forwards,
Well armed both with buckler and sword –
But the Normans had best combination,
And when half-time came neither had scored.

So the Duke called his cohorts together
And said – ‘Let’s pretend that we’re beat,
Once we get Saxons down on the level
We’ll cut off their means of retreat.’

So they ran – and the Saxons ran after,
Just exactly as William had planned,
Leaving ‘Arold alone on the hill-top
On his ‘orse with his ‘awk in his ‘and.

When the Conqueror saw what had happened,
A bow and an arrow he drew;
He went right up to ‘Arold and shot him.
He were off-side, but what could they do?

The Normans turned round in a fury,
And gave back both parry and thrust,
Till the fight were all over bar shouting,
And you couldn’t see Saxons for dust.

And after the battle were over
They found ‘Arold so stately and grand,
Sitting there with an eye-full of arrow
On his ‘orse with his ‘awk in his ‘and. Marriot Edgar

 The Battle of Hastings

olives-pont-du-gard

a post with few humans – a couple of tourists and some carved in stone – it’s easier for me to engage with this landscape as such. At Pont du Gard, in the terrain around the landmark, those maintaining the landscape show good skills – using just enough management. The olives in this grove have a balletic quality  – a certain strength underlying a lightness of form . . .

wall-pont-du-gard

. . . equally, the dry stone walling is rhythmic in contrast to the static character of the remnants of this ancient aqueduct that carried water from Uzés to Nimes. Some is very fragile awaiting restoration, perhaps . . .

arch-pont-du-gard

path-pont-du-gard

. . . a sprinkling of chêne vert left to edge the informal track leading down to the first dramatic glimpse. Nothing could be more powerful and appropriate.

pont-du-gard-1

pont-du-gard-detail

Masterful engineering – perfection in the detail of the construction – a simple and beautiful junction of stonework.

pont-du-gard-2

solan-1

At the Monastère, ‘the antechamber to heaven’ but also close to home, the small church is receiving attention – completion of the interior next year perhaps  – with the facade finished and decorated with a frieze of ‘Eric Gill’ style carving.

solan-2

solan-3

Eclectic architectural details which somehow work spread around the entrance, the spacious courtyard which I was to shy to photograph, the chapel and the nuns gathering room – they’ve employed a sensitive architect. Also, stupidly, I didn’t pluck up the courage to ask to see the productive gardens – all that convent schooling still affects me badly . . .

solan-4

quarry-1

. . . but here at the quarry at Vallabrix, no hestation on pushing through fencing and security bondaries to get as close as possible. This sand is used to manufacture Perrier bottles – so much better to drink water from glass than plastic . . . and it’s a stunning landscape to behold and walk around although the locals are not so keen on the noise and night time working. Two poems for this post, Attwood and Paz, what can I say . . .

quarry-landscape

quarry-portarit

quarry-vines

The moment when, after many years

of hard work and a long voyage

you stand in the centre of your room,

house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,

knowing at last how you got there,

and say, I own this,

 

is the same moment when the trees unloose

their soft arms from around you,

the birds take back their language,

the cliffs fissure and collapse,

the air moves back from you like a wave

and you can’t breathe.

 

No, they whisper. You own nothing.

You were a visitor, time after time

climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming.

We never belonged to you.

You never found us.

It was always the other way round. Margaret Atwood

 

 

Between now and now,

between I am and you are,

the word bridge.

Entering it

you enter yourself:

the world connects

and closes like a ring.

From one bank to another,

there is always

a body stretched:

a rainbow.

I’ll sleep beneath its arches. Octavio Paz

 

This is difficult. A post inspired by a bamboo garden which avoids endless photos of tall, upright, sticks of varying shades of green; all perhaps a tad gloomy.  Not sure I’ve suceeded so the reader best escape now . . .

phyllostachys edulis

chimonobambusa

. . . but, it is to me, a place of delights. The close up shots, the long views through the forests of stems and the eclectic mass planting of the varying species and their varieties. (Phyllostachys edulis – goodness it gets this tall? and below Chinombambusa).

Below is the maze – with hedges tall enough to fox adults . . .

 

 

bamboo maze 2

loathian 1

. . .  so, in this decorative landscape with intial planting by Eugène Mazel a passionate botanist, who planted his first species on the Estate in 1856 by acclimatizing these species from countries such as China, Japan, North America and the Himalayas and, then, ongoing development by the Nègre family. More recent additions included a Laotian village with buildings constructed of strong bamboo  – as robust as steel – as the major material. A village nestling within a fluffy nest of Fargesia backed with more structural Phyllostachys; a home to chickens and the odd pig. Children love it . . .

chickens 3

loathian architecture

pigs 2

la ferme

. . .  historic elements are retained such as the ferme and avenues of Seqouia. Trachycarpus are planted in avenues too – some trees still low enough for the hairy textures and the erupting flowers to be at eye level. The first of the surprises . . .

walkway 1

trachycarpus close up

surprise 1

surprise 2

. . . hidden in a plantation, another surprise; and another . . . with a hint of what’s to come . . .

surprise 3

surprise 5

. . . another hint with the Davidia but then I am thrown completely off course with the two Cornus although they look as though they should originate from the east.

surprise 6

surprise 8

surprise 7

The clues work. Buddhist style? Inspired by Feng Shui? The blossom covered pergola leads into the Oriental Garden designed by Erik Borja. Just 15 years old and mature enough now to make its mark.

‘whether it be in China or Japan, the shape, size and the style of a garden depends on the outline of the pond’. Perhaps?

dragon valley 2

dragon valley 4

pinus

Some beauties here including Loropetalum chinense; note to self – use it more.

surprise loropetalum

composition 2viridis

The plant combinations are very good – some quite unexpected . . .

tree ferns

. . .  and to finish Phyllostachys viridis ‘Sulfurea’ with the younger green stems that turn to sulpher tones in the second year.

phyllostachys sulphurea

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep. Pablo Neruda  Sonnet XVII

 

 

 

 

 

to esplanade

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  . . .

flamenco 1

flamenco 2

. . . waiting to take the stage and perform with their instructor, or was she a judge? Whatever she was big personality . . .

flamenco 3

. . . we were all transfixed by her charisma.

flamenco 4

esplanade fountain

Around the fountain, horse men and woman, from Uzès perfomed with impressive skill . . .

horse skills 3

horse skills

horse skills 2

. . . and another formidable horse woman was also centre stage.

in charge 2

Crowds overflowed into the street around the bodegas . . .

bodegas1

bodegas 2

. . . full of bonhomie. Beer and sangria flowing but no one seemed to show after effects . . .

concerts 1

. . . and musicians started impromptu concerts . . .

concerts 2

concerts 3

concerts 5

. . . full of fun and some performers showing superb skills.

bodegas 4

arene

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

 

salvias chateau 1

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 . . .

a table

. . . the planting, edging the garden, reverts to the ever popular flowery mead style.

a table perimeter

la cuisine africaine 3

‘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.

cuisine africaine

cuisine africaine 2

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.

farfugium

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 . . .

carre et rond 2

. . . 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.

carre et rond 1

carre et rond 3

poplares 1

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.

chris drury 1

boardwalk

Selected existing mature trees are partnered with sculptural but also practical landscape elements . . .

sculptural bench

. . . 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.

rhus + Loire

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

Season’s fastness

Season singing

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.

 

 

 

 

 

at lunchtime

June 6, 2015

place de l'eglise

France still closes down at lunchtine 12-2pm. Quite civilised and to be respected. Very pleasant sitting in Place de l’Eglise in Fontvieille – a small town that appeals more and more . . .

rue de lion

. . . wandering around the old streets, intrinsic compositions can be seen, admired and recorded.

lion gargoyle

pelargoniums

olive and stone

echeveria

pot garden

A garden of pots – well tended plants, all thriving and with somewhere to sit and admire them . . .

chairs

. . . and a green roof, which some might say is just ‘les mauvaises herbes’.

green roof

platane murie

Mûrier platane foliage on neatly managed trees shading a small modern square – very inviting – and just close by, in contrast, spreading branches of an ancient plane tree form a ceiling by the quarried stone face of the old town wall.

small square

stone quarry

skate 1

In the château gardens, now the town park, all ages are catered for. The home of Alphonse Daudet, the writer, now a museum dedicated to him and his work  – most notably “Les Lettres de mon Moulin”. Water courses run through the parkland where holm oaks and pines cascade over lauristinius and broom providing a simple vegetation matrix

canal

view to windmill 1

windmill 1

Following one walking route (there are many others to Les Baux, to San Remy and to Eygalieres) around the top of the town, the landmarks are three windmills named after their owners – Tissot-Avon (2 owners), Ramet and Ribet also called St Pierre and also also called Daudet’s mill with sails completely restored.

windmill 2

windmill 3

windmill 3 whole

windmill 3

rather fell for it and the whole area of Les Alpilles.

windmill 3 detail

J’ai dans mon coeur un oiseau bleu,
Une charmante creature,
Si mignonne que sa ceinture
N’a pas l’epaisseur d’un cheveu.

Il lui faut du sang pour pature.
Bien longtemps, je me fis un jeu
De lui donner sa nourriture:
Les petits oiseaux mangent peu.

Mais, sans en rien laisser paraitre,
Dans mon coeur il a fait, le traitre,
Un trou large comme la main.

Et son bec fin comme une lame,
En continuant son chemin,
M’est entre jusqu’au fond de l’ame!….  Alphonse Daudet L’Oiseau Bleu

 

grass sissinghurst

And a return visit – always a pleasure after doing a little work in a garden nearby – and 2 months on. Seeing the shadows on the grass  – just a casual pause before hitting the glamour of the garden rooms. Roses in full bloom – it’s that time of the year after all. My interest here is how the rose works against/with the background and as part of the composition – not many idents for the plantaholics, sorry – so below the soft coppery/pink tones of this rose at the entrance that work so so well with the old brick facade.

rose 1

rosees sissinghurst

sissinghurst roses 2

On the wall that divides the front courtyard and the rose garden – a Clematis – C. montana ‘Marjorie’ and time for a pause to remember a much loved aunt – a lady so confident, elegant and happy with herself and so interested in the younger generation.

clematis montana marjorie

rose garden

From the rose garden,  the eye slides easily to the slim towers. The planting here in this garden room appears to have lost its way a little. Once upon a time at the end of ’60’s and into ’70’s, the theme was simple: roses and shrubs with some underplanting and quite a bit of soil showed – this was fine. But now with the custodianship of the National Trust there appears to be a need to provide a continuous show of anything and everything – a fruit salad look has evolved with any old thing popped in to ‘please the punters’. Big organisations taking the individuality out of their product and, in this situation, not the head gardener or gardeners fault. Happily the planting in the Cottage Garden has  maintained the original clear ethos  – planting with a predominance of  hot colours.

end of spring walk

Within the nuttery, Dionysus stands calm and thoughtful as he has for years – a quiet interface between the Spring Garden (now in quiet post season mode) and the Cottage Garden. A delightful detail was on show low down –  Tulip sprengeri around the peeling trunk of Acer griseum . . .

tulip sprengeri + acer stem cottage garden

. . . . here too a specimen Rosa ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ climbing skywards against the cottage walls.

mme alfred carriere rose cottage garden sissinghurst

Overhanging the walls of the Moat Walk are a couple of splendid Wisteria floribunda ‘Alba” . . .

wisreia florinbunda sissinghurst

wisteria floribunda alab sissinghurst

. . . and a single Wisteris venusta with larger fleshier foliage. A more  restrained, intriguing and, therefore, perhaps sought after plant.

wisteria venusta

Near the herb garden, back with the norm – a pair of mauve flowered wisteria standards – old and gnarled and exotic

wisteria sinensis sissinghurst

white garden sissinghurst

And at half past five, just the right time to enter the White Garden – another  Rosa ‘Mme Alfred Carriere’ clothes a wall. The light starts to fade. A custodian arrives – someone delightful, a Gilbert and Sullivan character and part of the final act – to announce the closing of the garden . . . exit centre stage under a Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’ on the tower.

white garden rose sissinghurst

rosa bansiae sissinhurst

All her youth is gone, her beautiful youth outworn,

Daughter of tarn and tor, the moors that were once her home

No longer know her step on the upland tracks forlorn

Where she was wont to roam.

All her hounds are dead, her beautiful hounds are dead,

That paced beside the hoofs of her high and nimble horse,

Or streaked in lean pursuit of the tawny hare that fled

Out of the yellow gorse.

All her lovers have passed, her beautiful lovers have passed,

The young and eager men that fought for her arrogant hand,

And the only voice which endures to mourn for her at the last

Is the voice of the lonely land. Vita Sackville-West Mariana in the North

 

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