sauvage 3

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 . . .

chaumont opening-pana2 copy

. . . 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 . . .

sauvage 2

detail planting

detail mina lobata

. . . Mina lobata clambers over the steel reinforcing bar arch structure with a dark tender pennisetum covering the ground.

detail structure

detail canna

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.

detail dicksonia

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 . . .

le jardin du tein 1

le jardin du tein 2

le jardin du tein 3

. . . striking berries of Arbutus.

le jardin du tein 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.

reflexion 4

reflexion 3

reflexion 5


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.

collection de l'ombre 1

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 




tree cosies

April 12, 2013

house bariloche

San Carlos de Bariloche is a colourful place. It’s a mecca for tourists in summer time for activities on and associated with the Nahuel Huapi lake, as well as, in winter for skiing. The name is a combination of  “Carlos Wiederhold”, who settled down the first general store in the area (that is what “San Carlos” stands for), and a deformation of the word “vuriloche” (“different people, people from the back or from the other side”), used by the Mapuche people to refer to other native dwellers from the eastern zone of the Andes Mountain Range before their own arrival in this region. Not only are the buildings brightly coloured, the  ‘elastic bandages’ around the tree stems are of the same ilk. I hadn’t come across ‘tea cosies’ before but this is what they are called.

cosy 8

cosy 7

Many threads of differing colours.

cosy 6

cosy 5

The canopies are changing to autumn tones – fruits, berries and foliage – somehow creating an even more ‘surgical’ overall look with the bandaging of the main stem. The sorbus trees look glorious however.

cosy 4



ceibo speciosa 1

In the capital, lovely blossoms on Ceiba speiosa or the Silk Floss Tree. The common name is palo borracho or drunken stick. Open pods follow the pink flowers showing silk-like fibers that give the tree its name.

ceibo speciosa 3

And to finish, a short from Spike Milligan.


‘I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree’.

port of stranded pride

December 11, 2012


In Winchelsea, in a garden looking towards Rye, both ‘ports of stranded pride’ in the Romney Marsh landscape  as tagged by Rudyard Kipling. Years ago, in Roman and Norman times, both towns were ports where the sea washed this land.


I like the effect that the iphone pix have when fiddled with in instagram software  – just playing around, of course. Looking within and beyond the site, wondering what to do with it . . . noting the structure of the trees, hedging, spatial areas in the winter landscape. My knowledge of Winchelsea is just about OK but I thought to roam around the outlaying landscape to breathe in a little more  . . . .



. . .  down Monks Walk towards Wickham Manor Farm, the road passes under the New Gate. A flock huddled around the structure – looked interested and then quickly looked bored – picturesque nevertheless.  These pastures were owned by William Penn.  . . .and below is a wall of an almshouse. Stunning as a landmark now but humble as a piece of construction.


The views framed by the streetscape (horrible planners terminology) must have been fairly breathtaking before the arrival of the car and  vehicle parking  lining each street. I had to crop out the cars to get a feel of how things were – not much left but  . . .


. . .  attached to the gable of the Old Court Hall is an elaborate piece of metalwork that may have been a hoist or  . . . .


. . .  and the other major building standing slap bang in the middle of the town is the church – the new church as the previous  late 12C building was battered by high tides and, in the mid 13C, and finally destroyed by floods that changed the course of the river Rother. Edward 1 was instrumental in the siting of the ‘new town’. It remains unclear whether the arches that stand like wings were left incomplete or left to fall as ruins on this 2 acre site . . .  lovely stone from Normandy.







Spike Milligan lies here . . . somewhere  . . . in a graveyard surrounded by exquisite houses. I hope, and am completely sure, that the towns folk  follow his advise:

People who live in glass houses

Should pull the blinds

When removing their trousers. Spike Milligan




Humble head gently overseeing all who pass through the grounds. Some thoughts and experiences to ruminate on – useful and  thanks to the small town with a modest but well heeled character.


God gave all men all earth to love,

But since are hearts are small,

Ordained for each one spot should prove

Belovèd over all;

That, as He watched Creation’s birth,

So we, in godlike mood,

May of our love create our earth

And see that it is good.

So one shall Baltic pines content,

As one some Surrey glade,

Or one the palm-grove’s droned lament

Before Levuka’s Trade.

Each to his choice, and I rejoice

The lot has fallen to me

In a fair ground — in a fair ground —

Yea, Sussex by the sea!

No tender-hearted garden crowns,

No bosomed woods adorn

Our blunt, bow-headed, whale-backed Downs,

But gnarled and writhen thorn —

Bare slopes where chasing shadows skim,

And, through the gaps revealed,

Belt upon belt, the wooded, dim,

Blue goodness of the Weald.

Clean of officious fence or hedge,

Half-wild and wholly tame,

The wise turf cloaks the white cliff-edge

As when the Romans came.

What sign of those that fought and died

At shift of sword and sword?

The barrow and the camp abide,

The sunlight and the sward.

Here leaps ashore the full Sou’West

All heavy-winged with brine,

Here lies above the folded crest

The Channel’s leaden line;

And here the sea-fogs lap and cling,

And here, each warning each,

The sheep-bells and the ship-bells ring

Along the hidden beach.

We have no waters to delight

Our broad and brookless vales —-

Only the dewpond on the height

Unfed, that never fails —

Whereby no tattered herbage tells

Which way the season flies —

Only our close-bit thyme that smells

Like dawn in Paradise.

Here through the strong unhampered days

The tinkling silence thrills;

Or little, lost, Down churches praise

The Lord who made the hills:

But here the Old Gods guard their ground,

And, in her secret heart,

The heathen kingdom Wilfred found

Dreams, as she dwells, apart.

Though all the rest were all my share,

With equal soul I’d see

Her nine-and-thirty sisters fair,

Yet none more fair than she.

Choose ye your need from Thames to Tweed,

And I will choose instead

Such lands as lie ‘twixt Rake and Rye,

Black Down and Beachy Head.

I will go out against the sun

Where the rolled scarp retires,

And the Long Man of Wilmington

Looks naked towards the shires;

And east till doubling Rother crawls

To find the fickle tide,

By dry and sea-forgotten walls,

Our ports of stranded pride.

I will go north about the shaws

And the deep ghylls that breed

Huge oaks and old, the which we hold

No more than Sussex “weed”;

Or south where windy Piddinghoe’s

Begilded dolphin veers,

And black beside the wide-bankèd Ouse

Lie down our Sussex steers.

So to the land our hearts we give

Till the sure magic strike,

And Memory, Use and Love make live

Us and our fields alike —

That deeper than our speech and thought,

Beyond our reason’s sway;

Clay of the pit whence we were wrought

Yearns to its fellow clay.

God gave all men all earth to love,

But since are hearts are small,

Ordained for each one spot should prove

Belovèd over all;

Each to his choice, and I rejoice

The lot has fallen to me

In a fair ground — in a fair ground —

Yea, Sussex by the sea!   Rudyard Kipling  Sussex

colder than the Med

August 13, 2012

Boring everyone around me complaining about the weather in the UK! But, a glimmer of something bright in the sky so some time on the beach this week end  . . .

. . .  some swimming. Even no 1 son went in twice and pretended that the sea was warm – oh, yeah, but not quite like the Med was my response.  Watching folks lying in the sun, as part of the landscape of the beach – their postures are revealing. The chap below looks very uncomfortable – maybe hiding his paunch . . .  or trying to light a fag . . .

. .   very relaxed couple here – legs all akimbo – no paunches so quite confident and at ease.

Through the gap in the groynes and  . . .  apologies for smear on the lens!

Across the groynes, misty still to Beachy Head and to   . . .

. . . to the Marina building. Like it or hate it. Not a smear just a gull in flight . . .

. .  a helicopter and the smear and rather beautiful showing off sky.

Like this jaunty couple – just imagine the high pitched squealing as the waves break against bare legs!

I must go down to the sea again,
to the lonely sea and the sky;
I left my shoes and socks there –
I wonder if they’re dry?      Spike Milligan after someone else

évènements inattendus

July 30, 2012

Many of the walks out from the hameau are nicely circuitous and also flexible in length. Usually, my early evening routes are 7, 10 or 12 kms of up and down hill and through varied scenery – vineyards of course, holm oak woodland, garrigue type scrub, wild flower knolls, along streams, village roads – all without seeing another human at close quarters. Work goes on in the vineyards until dusk and many vehicles use the small road network – most drivers make acknowledgement (crazy English – walking!!). It’s possible to cast the eye across 180 degrees and see not a sign of human life – no buildings or roads – apart from the obvious tending of the vines. Yesterday’s stroll encompassed Les  Mattes and the wild flower knoll (on a previous post) now ploughed up for the planting of more vines. Areas get left fallow and then bought back into use on a cyclical system. I was keen to find the correct route, having failed last time, around Le Grange de Péret. Then I ended up ploughing through bramble and  jumping ditches!  The land that I presume goes with Le Grange is quite beautifully managed – as though unmanaged – with well selected objets left as though . . . .  such as this part of a camion.


. . .  opera pours out of the open windows of Le Grange and lots of German voices to be heard yesterday – thought so!   Just before the buildings I found 2 plants of Echinops ritro, thrusting out of the path edge. That was my ident anyway! Native to here, yes, but strange in this very rural landscape although there is plenty of a dwarf and very pale papery Eryngium which looks at home with the other flora.

Round the bend into the back end of Lenthéric and its many domaines, decided to stop by some varied cultivation – quite a relief after acres of vine stripes – and monitor the tomatoes.  There should be a photo of the guardian – four paws – here, but he was too busy trying to eat the camera. Farm dogs – usually hounds for la chasse – make a lot of noise and fuss, need to sniff, and quite often accompany whoever for a few metres along until boredom sets in. Sort of predictable and quite amusing!

Strolling out off the village to the moulin, a strange sweet smell wafted from the west. Very sweet but also pungent . . .

 . . . dark skinned blacks, of course, to avoid skin cancer. A big surprise to see a herd – more than 50 – in this area. We’re used to goats and some pale cattle inhabiting the oak scrub, but the warning is the sound of bells as against  ‘perfume’!

Little piggy bottoms! And a poem that some might find tasteless and some tasty! and a video – poem by S. Milligan.

In  England once there lived a big
And wonderfully clever pig.
To everybody it was plain
That Piggy had a massive brain.
He worked out sums inside his head,
There was no book he hadn’t read.
He knew what made an airplane fly,
He knew how engines worked and why.
He knew all this, but in the end
One question drove him round the bend:
He simply couldn’t puzzle out
What LIFE was really all about.
What was the reason for his birth?
Why was he placed upon this earth?
His giant brain went round and round.
Alas, no answer could be found.
Till suddenly one wondrous night.
All in a flash he saw the light.
He jumped up like a ballet dancer
And yelled, “By gum, I’ve got the answer!”
“They want my bacon slice by slice
“To sell at a tremendous price!
“They want my tender juicy chops
“To put in all the butcher’s shops!
“They want my pork to make a roast
“And that’s the part’ll cost the most!
“They want my sausages in strings!
“They even want my chitterlings!
“The butcher’s shop! The carving knife!
“That is the reason for my life!”
Such thoughts as these are not designed
To give a pig great piece of mind.
Next morning, in comes Farmer Bland,
A pail of pigswill in his hand,
And piggy with a mighty roar,
Bashes the farmer to the floor…
Now comes the rather grizzly bit
So let’s not make too much of it,
Except that you must understand
That Piggy did eat Farmer Bland,
He ate him up from head to toe,
Chewing the pieces nice and slow.
It took an hour to reach the feet,
Because there was so much to eat,
And when he finished, Pig, of course,
Felt absolutely no remorse.
Slowly he scratched his brainy head
And with a little smile he said,
“I had a fairly powerful hunch
“That he might have me for his lunch.
“And so, because I feared the worst,
“I thought I’d better eat him first.”  Roald Dahl

Just another strange sighting of a doorway in Aigues Vivres – close by here. Hooves, yes, but of what. I’ll stop now as it’s getting ghoulish! 

wet 24 hours

May 20, 2012

Since my last post, it’s poured. The celtis in the back garden look even more beautiful with drooping branches coated in rain drops but bereft of the normal bird life – it seemed sad and rather lonely.  A certain important, to me and his parents and close circle, small person was visiting. He’s left babyhood behind now and entered into toddlerhood although he doesn’t toddle at all – just strides or runs (a new skill) exactly to where he wants to go. Being extremely intelligent and resourceful (of course),  he searches for ideal surfaces for necessary activities.  The low window on the street side is ideal for lining up small vehicles . . . 

. . . . it’s ideal also for looking at the rain. We watch it gushing out of gulleys and down pipes – camera shake allowable in the bad conditions I feel . . . .

 . . eventually we make a foray onto the back balcony, even if we get wet, it’s fine. Bazonka H!  Thanks for the pix, Tom! 

Say Bazonka every day
That’s what my grandma used to say
It keeps at bay the Asian Flu
And both your elbows free from glue.
So say Bazonka every day
(That’s what my grandma used to say)

Don’t say it if your socks are dry!
Or when the sun is in your eye!
Never say it in the dark
(The word you see emits a spark)
Only say it in the day
(That’s what my grandma used to say)

Now folks around declare it’s true
That every night at half past two
If you’ll stand upon your head
And shout Bazonka! from your bed
You’ll hear the word as clear as day
Just like my grandma used to say!  Spike Milligan  Bazonka.

strange Saturday

April 7, 2012

Kids for sale at Pezanas market this morning – unnerving really as we were offered bonbons to engage us in the softening up process and, I suppose,  involve the children who milled around with family groups. Poor little kids sat on pedestals which they clearly didn’t enjoy . . .

 . . too many crowds for me, here by the river and, also in the square where the organic stalls are based . .

. . . but maybe I was out of sorts – Pezanas could have been Brighton today with many nationalities,  including me of course, standing out amongst a few natives.  So wandering away from the market areas to find some quietude . . .

and enjoy architectural and decorative elements that stand out, such as this street light.

But it’s all too much in the town and smaller villages like Alignan-du-Vent beckon where Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’  smothers a railing frontage . . .

 . . . but even villages become too much and the rest of the afternoon is spent stretched out on a bank of coquelicots in a vineyard watching the clouds move over head. Strange day.

There are holes in the sky
Where the rain gets in
But there ever so small
That’s why the rain is thin.  Spike Milligan    There are Holes in the Sky

on display

February 6, 2012

Last remnants of the watery snow cling to the grid pattern on the pier. We’re quite used now to stare through the security fencing in a desultory manner vaguely wondering when the ‘new’ structure will appear. Architects are appointed but that’s about all that’s happened since this post. We’re patient folks down here – grateful for the odd crumb . . . .

. . Cosmo’s displays make the blokes drool! Through his security window there’s a sexy, but bulky, old Triumph . . .

. . . and this BSA nonchalantly parked outside . . .

. . . another shop offers this display of soft pink and red tones – looking in closer I note the pink laces on the huge boots . . .

. . . did this little chap get his gear from this shop? A cross dresser?? Not sure he’s going to pull looking like this but then,  this town  is a strange place!


‘Help, help, ‘ said a man. ‘I’m drowning.’
‘Hang on, ‘ said a man from the shore.
‘Help, help, ‘ said the man. ‘I’m not clowning.’
‘Yes, I know, I heard you before.
Be patient dear man who is drowning,
You, see I’ve got a disease.
I’m waiting for a Doctor J. Browning.
So do be patient please.’
‘How long, ‘ said the man who was drowning. ‘Will it take for the Doc to arrive? ‘
‘Not very long, ‘ said the man with the disease. ‘Till then try staying alive.’
‘Very well, ‘ said the man who was drowning. ‘I’ll try and stay afloat.
By reciting the poems of Browning
And other things he wrote.’
‘Help, help, ‘ said the man with the disease, ‘I suddenly feel quite ill.’
‘Keep calm.’ said the man who was drowning, ‘ Breathe deeply and lie quite still.’
‘Oh dear, ‘ said the man with the awful disease. ‘I think I’m going to die.’
‘Farewell, ‘ said the man who was drowning.
Said the man with the disease, ‘goodbye.’
So the man who was drowning, drownded
And the man with the disease past away.
But apart from that,
And a fire in my flat,
It’s been a very nice day.  Spike Milligan  Have a Nice Day

The blue street signs stand out clearly, which of course, is their job but they have stood the test of time in their design. Street furniture at its best! Good to see that other forms of signage are being maintained as part of the building fabric too. The use of serif and sans serif  in the lettering is meaningful. The signwriter employed by M. Blanchon, the sabot maker, cleverly used a serif with added knobs for the name and so identifying the stoutness and longevity of the product to be found within.

Just readable lettering on the Auberge au Lion d’Or . . . . cul de sac sign not so good!

In Céret, the signage in Place des Neufs Jets is a mix of fonts with sans-serif  – only the numeral is serif (Walbaum from Berthold) – and also upper and lower case  . . .

. . . upper and lower case mix here at the fruit and veg shop quite delightfully positioned and hand painted with elegant drop shadow.

Faded French blue quite lovely with the mottled texture and tones of the trunks of the plane trees . . .

and the use of a gentle Art Nouveau style font on the arch of a covered walkway. Quite welcoming and definitely unthreatening.

This sign is far more to the point – means business –  whatever is for sale in here.

And a frontage still retaining its original character but now an upmarket B+B . . .

. . . an another Brousses business, Studio René and one of his photos

. . and something more recent – a few affiches displayed in Saint Antonin at New Year . . .

the sharp, brittle and surreal nature of one side of Les Mis made me smile. And just letters through this aperture please. No junk mail should enter here!

‘Twas midnight in theschoolroom
And every desk was shut
When suddenly from the alphabet
Was heard a loud “Tut-Tut!”

Said A to B, “I don’t like C;
His manners are a lack.
For all I ever see of C
Is a semi-circular back!”

“I disagree,” said D to B,
“I’ve never found C so.
From where I stand he seems to be
An uncompleted O.”

C was vexed, “I’m much perplexed,
You criticise my shape.
I’m made like that, to help spell Cat
And Cow and Cool and Cape.”

“He’s right” said E; said F, “Whoopee!”
Said G, “‘Ip, ‘Ip, ‘ooray!”
“You’re dropping me,” roared H to G.
“Don’t do it please I pray.”

“Out of my way,” LL said to K.
“I’ll make poor I look ILL.”
To stop this stunt J stood in front,
And presto! ILL was JILL.

“U know,” said V, “that W
Is twice the age of me.
For as a Roman V is five
I’m half as young as he.”

X and Y yawned sleepily,
“Look at the time!” they said.
“Let’s all get off to beddy byes.”
They did,then “Z-z-z.”  Spike Milligan The ABC

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