pictorial allotment

September 14, 2014

cosmos + gladiolus murieliae

Attractive grouping on plot 30 of Cosmos and Gladilolus murielae (undoctored photo) which I will make a note of.  One note is to sow seed of  colourful cosmos as against the purist white form – beautiful but leggy, which some might think is a sign of elegance but leggy can also mean floppy – and plant in a block format as against popping in in 3’s into the perennial matrix. Always useful to absorb other viewpoints. The clump is backed by borage seen in the big view to East Hill.  The last pic of this planting taken into the light from the west, so a tad bleached out but with pleasing upright strikes of couch grass (can it ever be a pleasure?) in the foreground . . .

cosmos glad + borage

 

cosmos + beyond

bramble

. . . now. I’m focused on looking at detail of constructions – mostly pieces of timber that are ripe for reuse and, that over time, fall into disrepair and then disintegrate or get burnt. A constant cycle of hard material that matches with the production cycle. Texture to the fore then without the visual disturbance of strong colour – also shown in the seed heads and seasonal fruits now in late summer (oh, what a horrid phrase)  . . .

gourds

onion

glass

self portrait

. . . on plot 53, a self portrait taken looking into the old water tank. I admire the pendulous racemes of Sanguisorba tenuifolia ‘Alba’ (no scent)  brought back from Piet Oudolf’s nursery (when he still had a nursery) and my favourite Rosa x odorata ‘Mutabilis’ supplied by Peter Beales. No perfume either but enough gorgeousness anyway. Lovely afternoon.

sanguisorba

 

rosa odorata mutabilis

I can’t turn a smell

into a single word;

you’ve no right

to ask. Warmth

coaxes rose fragrance

from the underside of petals.

The oils meet the air:

rhodinol is old rose;

gerianiol, like geranium;

nerol is my essence of magnolia; eugenol,

a touch of cloves. Jo Shapcott  Rosa odorata

 

It was a perfect day

For sowing; just

As sweet and dry was the ground

As tobacco-dust.

I tasted deep the hour

Between the far

Owl’s chuckling first soft cry

And the first star.

A long stretched hour it was;

Nothing undone

Remained; the early seeds

All safely sown.

And now, hark at the rain,

Windless and light,

Half a kiss, half a tear,

Saying good-night. Edward Thomas  Sowing,

evening lights

December 22, 2012

old town highstreet

A ‘ dark’ post  but appropriate for the time of the year.  Early evening in the Old Town High Street shows glistening puddles – it’s drizzling yet again, so very few folks out and about . . .  but quintessentially British.

pub

At Schmizu, the window and the shop inside, look stylish – as always – beautiful display and the shop’s still open . . .

schmizu

bells bicycles

. . .  equally creative are the windows of Bells. Many buildings – houses and shops –  have discreet festive lighting  – just visible. Curtains are left open at Christmas time, to allow the outer world to enjoy what is happening within . . .

discreet 1

discreet 2

discreet 3

. .  some shop windows are all about window shopping – dresses – yes, possibly . . .

dress

dress 2

hendys 1

. . .  and such fragile memories from childhood show in the double frontage display of Hendy’s Home Store.

hendys 2

Pretty swags across George Street . . .

george st2

and smaller swags in the windows of Skylon in Norman Road

skylon

In the windows of Wayward, it’s a complete composition with intriguing details of ribbons and of carefully selected ornament . . .

windward

windward 2

windward 3

. .   this lighting on the Marina building, however, stays with me night after night. Am very fond of this facade. Other posts on festive are here and here.

marina

The poems take exception to the rain.

They complain of their ankle-joints,

their elbows.

They reserve the right

not to be relied upon.

They put on weight.

They hoard their sleep

like currency –

not a crumb or a word

let slip, not a coin

in the collecting-plate.

Under the Christmas tree they lie

Immobile, with their travellers’ eyes.

When the day drowns them out

they look to the merciful night.

Night that takes the form of a train

crossing a forest.

shaking snow-pillows

from the silent branches. Jo Shapcott  December 4

Low late autumn light floods the landscape and transforms and changes the balance . . . .

. . even cast shadows become extras on the stage and part of the metamorphosis..

Forms of plants reemerge – just standing naked  – but still adorned with jewelry  . . .

. .  humble fruit trees so full of character . . . .

. .  supported, just, or expertly trained in some cases.

Even suburban cotoneaster becomes a thing of beauty. And the grasses, well . . . . ornamental . . .

. .  and dipsascus showing nature in roughness and beauty.

I think Rilke might have liked this subtle changing vision and ‘transparency’.

Before you can count to ten

everything changes: the wind flicks

clarity out of even

the high thistle stalks

and flings it in my face,

so close it can’t be seen.

A precipice

on a border mountain

gives more certain footing

than this spot where

long grass displaces itself

overnight,      in wind, in rain,

lies down under the clear air

as if stroked

by the hand

which made it up. Jo Shapcott (after Rilke)   Caety Traylow

a change in landscape

September 1, 2012

After many trips to Aix to see special people and enjoy the town,  it was welcome to view and be involved in the surrounding landscape at close quarters. Previously on the trips from Languedoc to this part of Provence,  I’ve  just had the tantalising glimpse of Mte Saint-Victoire whilst whizzing down the last part of  La Provençale – elegant name for a motorway. The muggy afternoon prompted the short trip to Le Tholonet, below the mountain which figures in Cézanne’s work. The white limestone of the summit contrasts with the red clay on the lower level.

       

Le Tholonet sits within the area of Réserve Naturelle. Rangers block off certain parts of the twiggy wooded areas at this time of the year as forest fires can ignite without warning. Fastigiate cypress punctuate against the rounded forms of the pines  – the look of Provence – vineyards and fields of wildflowers also form part of the landscape.

L’Arc et La Cause are the two rivers which wend their way through the Haute Vallée de l’Arc. Streams cascade down and bubble over the rock formations on their way to feed into the rivers creating a cool atmosphere. Also a wet and slippery playground . . . .

. . .  hardly a soul here. Plenty of space for all on a week day afternoon.

Holm and turkey oaks form the scrubby layer under the pines. Gorse, broom and rosemary figure too but at this time of year it’s predominately a green landscape with just the herb layer of grasses and thyme browning off.

Back in Languedoc, the agricultural feel dominates. There is heavy tall woodland here too – all holm oak – denser and rougher than in Provence. Some olive groves contribute to the look of the landscape but to a lesser degree. The olive has given way to the vine. The vehicles – tractors and white vans –  are more noticeable in the vineyards now denoting final tweaking in the last few weeks before the vendange.

Clematis flammula and oaty grasses greet me again on the verges of the tracks around the village. Love it.

I’m amazed the earth hereabouts

lets me breathe its atmosphere,

that the voices I hear

permit me to listen.

When a word soars: such a flight

through these distances,

you’d need the voce of a nightingale

to take its measure.  Jo Shapcott  Born Off

les dunes de la plage

July 6, 2012

At Portiragnes, wide dunes run along behind the beach landscape. They’re impressive. A seemingly native environment that appears sustainable and well managed from the onlookers point of contact. Eryngium maritimum (sea holly) is in full flower  – stunning steely flower heads  – thrusts itself into the full frontal now. Glorious show stealing and why not!

Looking east, a euphorbia – maybe Euphorbia paralias . . .

 . . that sits well now in July with Crithmum maritimum . . . .

 . . . where the dunes run back into sheltered lagoons, sweetly scent Clematis flammula rampages around, in a decorous fashion – the plant is in full flower across Languedoc now . . .

 . . and a contrast to the spiny, architectural form of Echinophora spinosa . . .

 

. . . .  just coming into flower.

And  Pancratium maritimum – a stupendous eruption through the sand.

Finally. maybe a leymus or marram grass or maybe something else? 

Am I flower, am I grass blade?

Am I almost, but not quite,  a word?

A new island made of hush,

off the map? One thing’s sure:

I’m late for my own creation –

on the eighth day – your afterthought.

You made me and now you must watch

God eat me up bit by bit.   Jo Shapcott  The Second Lie

les trois tours

July 1, 2012

The recognised walk  ‘Les Trois Tours’ covers 13 kms of vineyards, woodland, hill contours, hedged lanes and plateau to the west and north west of Faugères. There is the odd glimpse of the tours over tops of holm oaks and through the occasional gap in the vegetation but, it isn’t until one gets within a couple of kilometres, that the ‘goal’ is seen clearly. This is tantalisation in the French manner!!! There is a quick 10 mins walk directly from the heart of the village and there is car access for those less energetic! Perfume from the Bruyères wafts in the air well before the yellow flowering shrubs are seen – more tantalisation! 

Originally, in 16C  there were 3 buildings or towers – the mills used for grinding wheat,when this land was covered with céréales long before vines were planted. Now well restored as a functioning mill with middle building used as living quarters for mill worker and the half tower as a lookout. 

From the half tower, on a clear day it’s possible to see the sea 40 kms away to the south, and the Pyrénees to the southwest, the Caroux to the west, the Cevennes to the north and Agde and Narbonne to the east . . . . 

 . . . .  from the brochure: “The noise is tremendous! It’s almost scary, as we’ve just been told that the roof weighs 7 tonnes , and that to be able to turn the sails in function of the wind direction, the pointed roof is not fixed to the walls!!! The noise comes from all directions… the sails themselves, but also the octagonal axle that taps against a wood carved horses’ head, which shakes free the grain, down between the 700 kilo round stone block, which rotates onto the 1000 kilo “fixed”stone. What a racket… impossible to hear yourself talk! It’s almost a relief when the guide puts the break back on!”

The dry stone walls and their restoration is impressive . . .

 . . . All impressive but this one’s not impressed!

I’m amazed the earth hereabouts

Lets me breathe its atmosphere,

That the voices I hear

Permit me to listen.

When a word soars: such a flight

Through the distances,

You’d need the voice of a nightingale

To take its measure  Jo Shapcott   Born Off

Above Lenthéric, there is a knoll that faces due east. It’s a perfect place to scramble up to past the buildings of La Grange  – opera floats out of the windows –  before flopping down in the sparse wildflower layer with many scabious to view the surrounding landscape . . .

. . and on the way back to La Liquière, there’s a very small piece of land belonging to Clos Fantine that seems quite breath-taking in the early evening light. It’s all vines and wine here – very dense and focused on the product –  but also plenty of recognition and allowance for nature. Clematis flammula spreads across any horizontal and vertical surface – flowers like an icy breath – beautiful and undisturbed.

Dipsacus fullonum stretches up through the verge sides and the caper is flowering  – fine straight purple stamens on the flowers – in contrast to the thick, tough and scrambling nature of the plant itself . . .

. .  all to be admired! Also lying back in it all and watching the sky!

At  Le Jardin Sec, the Filippis grow plants that are tolerant to the dry conditions of the Mediterranean basin. Many plants here are native to the area including the grass with wavy florescence, Stipa pennata.

Some landform provides the height for plants that relish even more exposed and drier conditions than those planted and growing on the flat. Sophora japonica ‘Pendula’ cascades over Stipa gigantea and yellow flowering Cistus atriplicifolius. Scabiosa cretica, evergreen and shrubby, billows out in the foreground.

Gravel paths give access through the informal planting. Delicate Gaura, seen in many situations around Languedoc in these months – roundabouts, mass planting, retail parks and town parks and garden – is now springing into life and attracting all insect life.

The silvery foliage of Ballota makes a great contrast to the red leaves on the Cotinus – surprisingly drought tolerant and also seen effectively in landscape plantings – simple and aesthetically pleasing. Favourite of mine,  Bupleurum, lime green and waxy, is flowering on verges and in woodland edges, both above Lenthéric and in Le Jardin Sec. Happy in itself! It’s a dream!

I went outside looking and looking

for a garden and the hill. I have lost

my shadow and my oak and my night sweat.

The field was just mown and the summer

so hot there was no green in it,

layers of russets and yellows,

and I was swelling with mosquito

bites and I was listening to Fado.

The trees around the perimeter

were a block of solid colour,

shockingly uni-green by contrast.

(my stomach fluttered at the sight – and

gut epithelium is five days old at most)

Look further into the stands of trees

and everything changes (my cerebral

and visual cortex is as old as me). The eye

can’t locate an individual shade:

it’s all delicate tips and hints

of green rolling in the wind.

We are moving and I can’t see a thing.  Jo Shapcott Viral landscape

%d bloggers like this: