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.

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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

 

above the Gardon

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 . . .

ferula old

ferula + euphorb

. . . 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 . . .

euphorbia 1

iris pumila purple

. . . 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.

iris pumila cream

iris pumila in stones

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 . . .

gardons to east

. . .  as it enters from the west  beyond Russan and beyond Anduze . . .

gardons to east detail

 

gardons to west

. . . 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.

climbers

narcissus + globularia

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.

narcissus in path

limestone path

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.

pont st nicolas

church

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.

rosa banksiae

umbilicus rupestris 1

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

 

 

 

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Just a few fleeting glimpses of up above . . . ‘a glimpse is much harder to pin down’ Howard Hodgkin.

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And, down on the ground, from a few hours in Uzès. Basalt setts inlaid in the stone to give subtle definition – a pleasing aesthetic.

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Old and new – skills and  craftsmanship  – and atmosphere.

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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

les halles olive stall

Things other than landscapes have taken my eye recently. Day to day occurrences and visual flashes add to the experience of all I’ve come to value about life here in the Gard. The senses seem to be heightened – food, of course, looks as appetising as it can be even before the pleasure of the tasting . . . .

les halles fruits

. . . Les Halles in Nîmes, the central covered market, offers not just stalls but also one of the best places to eat –  Halles Auberge – busy, well priced  and positioned where the ongoing life of the market can be viewed over a plate of coquillages. Pieds et paquets and Agrillade St.Gilloise are also on offer.

huitres

halles auberge

Just opposite les Halles is a marvel. A shop like shops used to be when I was young – a long time ago. Appetising from the outside and even more so once inside . . .

droguerie

pigments 1

pigments 2

pigments 3

. . . all the pigments that anyone  could wish for. Rich, appetising and electrifying colours can be seen in Claude Viallat’s work in the permanent exhibition at the Carré d’Art – Musée d’Art Contemporain – plus a powerful piece from Gerhard Richter which sucked me into the detail of the application of paint.

viallat

richter

arenes

Near the Arènes, hoardings screen a building site that will eventually become the Musée de la Romanité, meanwhile this stencil on the hoarding seems to evokes the sadness of the bull fighter – the arena is the stage. The fear of the performance or the possible outcome or just Spanish melancholia – I know nothing of this. What I do know and like are the swatches of silk as shown the Musée du Vieux Nîmes where the history of denim ( yes, it came from those associated with Nîmes) is well explained. Swatches of colourful cottons caught my eye nearby on daily visits to the Bar des Beaux Arts in Place des Herbes for a noissette.

soies

cottons

villaret

Maison Villaret has delightful window displays that entreat you to enter, admire and taste what’s on offer. The small pile of marzipan crocodiles shouldn’t be disturbed but maybe the tower of crystallised fruits can be.  . . . .

villaret 2

camion2

. . and to finish off a couple of camion – swiftly disappearing from the roads now. I felt Gilbert, artisan peintre, would be totally trustworthy and execute his work with integrity – great marketing. And in Uzès, another more modest vehicle that sat well with the surroundings and colour wise reminded me of the vernacular.

camion 1

olive tree

Per solatz revelhar,

Que s’es trop enformitz,     

E per pretz, qu’es faiditz

Acolhir e tornar,   

Me cudei trebalhar’                    

‘To wake delight once more

That’s been too long asleep,

And worth that’s exiled deep

To gather and restore:

These thoughts I’ve laboured for’   Guiraut de Bornelh

finding the sea

January 5, 2014

A short bus ride to the south of Nimes lie the Étangs which form part of the only commune in the Gard to have frontage to the sea – where the beaches spread out from the small port of le Grau du Roi. In this landscape, reed covered marshes interlock with large cultivated areas as well as the stretches of salt pans that produce thousands of tonnes of salt a day at harvest time.

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1.1

Following a storm surge from the Rhone in 17C, a wide channel was formed, eventually made into a canal, creating a direct link to Aigues -Mortes to the north. In the port eclectic buildings line the south facing side of the channel  . . .

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1.4

. . .  a flashy intervention seems to have happened on the apex of the hôtel above but the old lighthouse retains a modest charm. Across the bay to the west sits la Grande-Motte with the show off architecture by Jean Balladur. He drew inspiration from the  pre-Columbian pyramids of Teotihuacan – Mexico – and modern architecture in Brazil, especially in the works of architect Oscar Niemeyer. Quite like it from a distance – but only as such. Within, it felt like a retirement complex in Florida.

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3

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Elements within the port and the beaches offer up close quarter delights in the sharp light of a winter’s day  . . .

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6

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9

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. . and as the cirrus clouds waft overhead, their cumuli cousins await over the horizon. Ernest Hemingway liked this place enough to write some of The Garden of Eden here. I liked it too.  Au revoir et à bientôt.

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12

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” Ernest Hemingway  The Garden of Eden.

“If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water.”

glimpse

Some very enjoyable hours are spent researching enclosed gardens nowadays. For one researcher it is directly connected to an imminent installation, so the aesthetic;  and for the other, it is connected more and more to the 360 degree view of the plot being worked by the gardener, so the practical. A glimpse into one of the cloistered green areas at Val de Bénédiction Chartreuse in Villeneuve les Avignon offers up the expected box framed parterre – a warm berceau – a  14 C  space lined by cloisters but now the 21 C view that visitors expect. This is the church cloister bounded by chapter room, sacristan’s cell, shaving room and the church housing the mausoleum of Pope Innocent VI. It may have been an area for cultivating herbs . . . . a  ‘focal point’ – vase has been placed as part of the experience that is de rigueur now.

hortus

The feature look a a little out of place in the new setting but it’s a good reproduction of 17 C decorative finial from the entrance gate and posts. Pomegranates, melons and acanthus adorn the vase. This may be a copy of  the original by Franςois Des Royers, a local architect, sculptor and stone mason, who was invited to add similar touches. The monasatery grew richer, more influential and beautiful over the centuries until the Revolution.

niche

Long corridors offer up a peaceful and serene atmosphere. Any decoration is subdued but appropriate. Following a carving up into lots of the library and works of art including frescoes and the bad damage to the building during the Revolution,  the Inspector of Historical Monuments, Prosper Mérimée started the process of repair.

arch doorway

ceiling

support

The priest’s cells form a linear terrace on the right side of this cloister – Cemetery Cloister. The cells had a mezzanine sleeping area looking out onto a private walled garden, and across the Chemin des Chartreux to the Fort St – André,  high on the hill overlooking the new town, the Rhône and the old Avignon.

corridor with rooms

monks houses

The individual garden – hortulus –  has a raised level to catch as much sun as possible. A majority of the herbal plants had been introduced by the Romans but also brought back from The Holy Land by Crusaders so sun and warmth were a prerequisite in their growth and cultivation.

herbs

plan of certosa

The plan of another Certosa, Pavia, shows the uninterrupted rectilinear regulation of line and form. Inward looking and contemplative – nothing from the outside or larger world can interrupt. My thoughts on tending earth and growing plants are on the same level.

k garden

This was the area of the hortus catalogi, also part of the Cemetery Cloister, where plants were grown for food and healing. Grown in an ordered pattern, originally as a user friendly method of organisation,  with roots from ancient Muslim gardens.

hortus catalogi

long corridor

All circulation was through covered cloister walkways – repetition – harmoniously connecting functional spaces – inward views – geometric planes of light and shade – unified  – humility and piety – prayers offered up to save the human race.well

One necessary functional space was based round the water reservoir. The basin here built by Des Royers and covered later with an octagonal rotunda by Franque seems monumental and indicative of the power of the church . . . . so back firmly down to earth with Carol Ann Duffy:

Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child’s name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre. Carol Ann Duffy  Prayer

Some other posts on the research:

https://juliafoggterrain.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/chronicling-the-day/

https://juliafoggterrain.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/quietude/

https://juliafoggterrain.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/land-of-the-saint-the-devil-and-the-monks/

https://juliafoggterrain.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/a-room-without-a-ceiling/

(refs: drawings from The Enclosed Garden Aben + de Wit; Captured Landscape K Baker)

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