A busy month of eclectic experiences starting with the city – looking from the 6th floor of the Pompidou Centre  across the panorama . . .

. . . and looking down onto a canopy of plane trees. Here to see . .

Cy Twombly’s work from a career spanning 60 years. It was a marvellous exhibition; sadly over now. ‘Untitled’ painted in Rome during his minimal and conceptual phase in 1970’s to . . .

the ‘Rose Series’ Gaeta 2008 drawn from influence/ inspiration/ silent dialogue with Rilke’s poems. Stunning and thought provoking and an exhibition that has kicked me into reading Homer again – what a delight.

City to coast and plant buying. As equally pleasurable as being immersed in paintings. At Pépinière Filippi, plants suitable for dry gardening are displayed in a garden setting  – this below is perhaps yucca spp – possibly Yucca rostrata  – as well as . . .

. . . in the nursery. I can’t describe the excitement and anticipation of seeing  lines of pots and the plants that they hold  – mad I know.

And then it’s off to Bouzigues for some seafood to be enjoyed with a good view of Sète.

Coast to country and walking for a few days in the Cévennes. Through the chestnut woods and over streams passing dry stone walls coated in mosses and lichen. Moss is a plant but lichen a type of fungus needing algae so a symbiotic relationship . . .

. . . we encountered some history too – a group of huts set on a plateau -restored in hommage to the protestants who fought in the Camisards’ War in early 18th C. They fought a guerilla warfare ambushing the King’s men and them melting back into the wooded countryside. Locals also hid in the the buildings in the 1940’s  – the Nazis being too lazy to climb through the dense landscape.

In Saint Hilaire-de-Lavit, forgotten vehicles and a wondrous chêne vert in the graveyard . . .

. . . and iris and wisteria still in bloom.

May Day is celebrated in the village with a Marché des Fleurs under the  55 plane trees – my front garden – which shade the colourful displays. Some are very bright . . .

. . . some less so . . .

and some are quite discreet. The poem from Rilke should wrap this post up well. à bientôt.

Rose

so cherished by our

customs

dedicated to our memories

became almost imaginary

for being so linked

to

our

dreams  Rainer Maria Rilke

just trees

February 22, 2015

willows

Along the lanes between Frittenden and Sissinghurst, single elegant specimens and more functional lines of trees screening the fields of fruit – all with intrinsic character. Birds inhabiting the top canopies. A busy time of year for them – sounding happy . . .

tree line

fruit

hazel

elegance

. . . stands of sweet chestnut, hazel, birch and more solitary statuesque oaks.

birch

oak

oak 2

dogwoods + willows

No one around just endless cars but the the inhabitants of these missed the beauty that I enjoyed.

ivy

I wonder about the trees.
Why do we wish to bear
Forever the noise of these
More than another noise
So close to our dwelling place?
We suffer them by the day
Till we lose all measure of pace,
And fixity in our joys,
And acquire a listening air.
They are that that talks of going
But never gets away;
And that talks no less for knowing,
As it grows wiser and older,
That now it means to stay.
My feet tug at the floor
And my head sways to my shoulder
Sometimes when I watch trees sway,
From the window or the door.
I shall set forth for somewhere,
I shall make the reckless choice
Some day when they are in voice
And tossing so as to scare
The white clouds over them on.
I shall have less to say,
But I shall be gone.  Robert Frost.

journey back

December 12, 2013

sevenoaks platform

The journey back to the coast from London is never as pleasant as the other way around and it’s nothing to do with expectation and the tantalising thought of the great city – it’s simply the fact that the countryside that this train line powers, sorry chugs,  through is photogenic from the one direction – south to north. This statement sounds ridiculous but after 10 years I feel the same. So the journey back – north to south – is best for reading, making notes and a little meditation. Or crying, which I have done before. Yesterday, the elderly couples left the train at Orpington as normal and then there was a little spatial period  – mind and ergonomics – before we stopped at Sevenoaks. . . . .

seven oaks station 2

. . . the light was dropping fast backlighting the trees with flashes of fire from the low band of the sun . . .

tonbridge 2

tonbridge

. . at Tonbridge, the schools entered the train. There are many ‘good’/ ‘fee paying’ schools here but the noise levels of the young is much the same – the accents slightly different. Chattering and more chattering –  all quite loud and not very interesting unless you are concerned with league tables – so, the option is to listen or stuff in the headphones . . .

tonbridge platform

. . . ah, after Battle, we’re released. We, dull adults, are left to fiddle with phones or glimpse at the strong compositions of the twiggy textures flicking beyond the mucky windows . . .

wadhurst 2

wadhurst 3

. . the light of the sunset across Beachy Head streams across the horizon.

wadhurst 4

last sunset 2

last sunset

Black is the prominent tone. Black landscapes that suddenly seem so unthreatening – static – dramatic.

So now I think that the journey back is best just at nightfall – for the time being anyway.

wadhurst

On my bedroom wall

Father paints a beautiful picture

of the famous river that runs beside our house.

 

The river is black and all the clouds,

fields, thin shimmering houses, stars,

moons and bridges are black, cool and noir.

Soon the entire wall is black.

 

His river-painting is so beautifully black,

so wild, so percussive,

it makes me weep, on each of my tears

is painted a tiny curled-up baby, seahorse-neat.

 

Father shrugs off praise.

‘Picasso is right,’ says Father,

‘black is the only colour.

You can fly through black!’   Penelope Shuttle   Picasso is Right

filigree of trees

February 7, 2013

photo (2).JPG chestnut

An installation with a sense of fragility at The Towner Gallery. The branches of sweet chestnut appear to hover across the floor of the gallery space. A strong material takes on another character when organised vertically. Olaf Eliasson made this Forked Forest Path as part of the Bon hiver exhibtion – it had great charm and the visitor is totally engaged physically. I wonder  how different woods would work – like stands of species in cash crop wood – in a large venue like the turbine hall at Tate Modern. Of course, Olaf knows all about that space.

photo (2).JPGolaf

Really don’t know if I should have taken these pix – the attendant was busy with a couple of young ladies – but the temptation was too great . . . .

photo (2).JPGolafson

. . . Kelly Richardson is also showing at The Towner. Her videos of known landscape elements taking on an unknown appearance through movement, treatment and juxtaposition are thought provoking, amusing and a little unnerving. The moving images have the strength to suck the onlooker in  – Richardson’s world easily becomes the real world.  I’m not linking directly to her videos but suggest this link.  . . .

leviathan

the last frontier

the erudition2

the erudition3

. . back with my feet on the ground, I thought to engage with the still canopies in some quiet weather . . .

ficus

overview

. .  the closest tree groups are in the local gardens designed and built by the Burtons. The environment felt frozen in time. Just gazing into the composition that the filigree of trees encapsulated was absorbing . . . .

gate house

the clockhouse

still tree

stretched tree

tree breasting a squall

tree regrouping

tree fingering a hill

tree-shadow on the mist above the moor

tree rain-blind against glass

tree with its hands flying

to its mouth

tree-branch whipping

a sky sullen as youth

tree-branch fallen in the garth

tree-log drying

at the fireside

tree-log knitting its red-and-black

patchwork in the hearth

tree-log whistling its psalm

of surrender

tree-log hollowing

tree-boat borne

on the yellow sails of the flames

funeral-boat whose tiller the axe

leans by the open door  Alison Fell   Lightyear January 3

Today, in Brede High Woods, sunshine floods across the ancient and secondary woodlands – very muddy underfoot after rain yesterday and basically since last March!. The land is managed by the Woodland Trust with some areas of the original planting of broad leaf trees – beech, hornbeam and coppiced sweet chestnut – still retained and some re planting when areas of old coniferous trees are felled. So grid planting of beech, as seen above, interweave with single specimens of oak and beech . . .

. . .  a sweet perfume filtered through the trees, perhaps from flowering ivy  – holly was evident so it seemed natural to think there was ivy hiding somewhere. . . .

. . . signs of old practices too. Ancient hornbeams with powerful exposed roots had obvious signs of the original layering method of a laid hedge. The roots  now form sheltered crevices for blechnum ferns. Sunken lanes, or holloways, banks and ditches are landscape features as well as sawpits and iron-ore extraction pits, ruined buildings and other lumps and bumps.

Other growths erupt from trunks.

Open heathland is being cleared and restored and looked beautiful – but the whole atmosphere quickly changed as a dog off the lead came crashing through the tree stand chasing a couple of fallow deer.  This is OK, apparently, as the owner thinks it’s good for the deer’s heart rate! The deer escaped but the impression was that this was how the dog – many others were off the lead too – was exercised.

Small ponds, springs and streams run through the woods following a course down to Powdermill Reservoir – fine reflection today.

I must admit to not being a great rememberer on Remembrance Day – which is marked today. I do remember carrying the flag whilst a girl guide (that only lasted a short time) chosen because I was tall enough to deal with the big flag at a Remembrance Day service. However, at the highest part of the woods, quite near the image below is a well positioned bench that has an inscription in memory of Corporal John Rigby , of the 4th Battalion The Rifles, who died on his 24th birthday just hours after he was injured in a roadside bomb in Iraq in June 2007. John was a frequent visitor to the woods – he lived locally. Click on the link below and read about John:

http://dedicatetrees.com/testimonial.aspx?id=1

And thinking about John, a poem from a war poet . . . .

The rain of a night and a day and a night
Stops at the light
Of this pale choked day. The peering sun
Sees what has been done.
The road under the trees has a border new
Of purple hue
Inside the border of bright thin grass:
For all that has
Been left by November of leaves is torn
From hazel and thorn
And the greater trees. Throughout the copse
No dead leaf drops
On grey grass, green moss, burnt-orange fern,
At the wind’s return:
The leaflets out of the ash-tree shed
Are thinly spread
In the road, like little black fish, inlaid,
As if they played.
What hangs from the myriad branches down there
So hard and bare
Is twelve yellow apples lovely to see
On one crab-tree.
And on each twig of every tree in the dell
Uncountable
Crystals both dark and bright of the rain
That begins again.   Edward Thomas  After Rain

autumn fireworks

November 3, 2012

Some sunshine after days and nights of rain so an opportunity to enjoy the fireworks of autumn vegetation at Bedgebury National Pinetum. Everyday but, not to be overlooked, planting of red stemmed dogwoods with a backdrop of American sweet gum – Liquidamber styraciflua – with the sharply lobed foliage.

Buttery tones on the Cornus controversa. Autumn colour which often gets overlooked in contrast to the strong tabulate form and that’s why it’s called the Wedding Cake Tree after all! So useful to be reminded of the delicate change in appearance . . . similarly with butter gleaming from the larch’s feathery foliage . . . colour of the deciduous species preparing to lose ther leaves is more noticeble here at the pinetum as against rural or an arboretum setting.

A great birch – Betula sp. – a show stopper.

This is conifer land – which I admit to finding quite indigestible – so compositions that include contrasts appeal like the fruits and the pine. But  some mature specimens such as Wellingtonia – Sequoiadendron giganteum  – have to be admired. As well as the rusty taxodiums just loosing their needles . . . .

. .  also enjoyed the patterns made by shadow and sunlight on the slippery ground and the grasses which I guess are a form of carex. Glossy, slippery needles cascade from this Pinus patula . . . .

. .  and the leaves on this birch seemed to spark like a Catherine wheel. More gentle and limpid, the final view of reflections. I had planned to add in the evening firework display but nothing at all – too wet and blustery. Ugh!  The poem, well a tad  tongue in cheek but very Plath.

How this tart fable instructs
And mocks! Here’s the parody of that moral mousetrap
Set in the proverbs stitched on samplers
Approving chased girls who get them to a tree
And put on bark’s nun-black

Habit which deflects
All amorous arrows. For to sheathe the virgin shape
In a scabbard of wood baffles pursuers,
Whether goat-thighed or god-haloed. Ever since that first Daphne
Switched her incomparable back

For a bay-tree hide, respect’s
Twined to her hard limbs like ivy: the puritan lip
Cries: ‘Celebrate Syrinx whose demurs
Won her the frog-colored skin, pale pith and watery
Bed of a reed. Look:

Pine-needle armor protects
Pitys from Pan’s assault! And though age drop
Their leafy crowns, their fame soars,
Eclipsing Eva, Cleo and Helen of Troy:
For which of those would speak

For a fashion that constricts
White bodies in a wooden girdle, root to top
Unfaced, unformed, the nipple-flowers
Shrouded to suckle darkness? Only they
Who keep cool and holy make

A sanctum to attract
Green virgins, consecrating limb and lip
To chastity’s service: like prophets, like preachers,
They descant on the serene and seraphic beauty
Of virgins for virginity’s sake.’

Be certain some such pact’s
Been struck to keep all glory in the grip
Of ugly spinsters and barren sirs
As you etch on the inner window of your eye
This virgin on her rack:

She, ripe and unplucked, ‘s
Lain splayed too long in the tortuous boughs: overripe
Now, dour-faced, her fingers
Stiff as twigs, her body woodenly
Askew, she’ll ache and wake

Though doomsday bud. Neglect’s
Given her lips that lemon-tasting droop:
Untongued, all beauty’s bright juice sours.
Tree-twist will ape this gross anatomy
Till irony’s bough break.  Sylvia Plath  Virgin in a Tree

writers in the woodland

October 17, 2012

One side of the path in the sunlight with soft, buttery grasses in late summer contrasts with the other side – slightly shadier and consequently with a greenish layer on the floor plain of ferns. This point is the start of the walk  IGN Map 2543 (St Gervais), and by the fitness trail, for those who enjoy a randonée . . . .

. . . a randonée through La Forêt deas Ecrivans Combattants, in memory of writers who died in combat in both wars – allées and paths are named after them, so, for example, Rond-point Maurice Bourder, Belvedere P Chanlaine and Allée de Lt – Col. De Malléray are to be seen.  It’s an evocative place and pleasingly organised – thoughtful in concept and implementation. Also to be seen now are the sweet chestnuts gorgeously fruiting on the lower slopes. Such abundance!

The monuments resemble tomb stones although made of concrete. I realised that my knowledge of French literature was dire and in need of much research. Good to be pulled up!

Small bee orchids were seen shyly appearing through the burnt out grassy sward . . . .

. . . and pine woods spread over the higher, more exposed land above the Gorges de Madale.

A couple of months ago  this view would be a sea of mauve when the calluna flowers profusely. A sheep fold, unused for many years, is a rather beautiful building at a distance and also close to . . . .

. . .  now it houses an equally beautiful decrepit chestnut.

Just a sheep fold but great craftsmanship from whoever constructed the stone walls. Winding paths through chestnut and oak woodland lead back to Combes almost alpine in feel. If the auberge is a destination, it’s lunchtime opening is short. Hélas, too short in my case.

In a house which becomes a home,
one hands down and another takes up
the heritage of mind and heart,
laughter and tears, musings and deeds.
Love, like a carefully loaded ship,
crosses the gulf between the generations.
Therefore, we do not neglect the ceremonies
of our passage: when we wed, when we die,
and when we are blessed with a child;
When we depart and when we return;
When we plant and when we harvest.
Let us bring up our children. It is not
the place of some official to hand to them
their heritage.
If others impart to our children our knowledge
and ideals, they will lose all of us that is
wordless and full of wonder.
Let us build memories in our children,
lest they drag out joyless lives,
lest they allow treasures to be lost because
they have not been given the keys.
We live, not by things, but by the meanings
of things. It is needful to transmit the passwords
from generation to generation.   Antoine de Saint-Exupery  Generation to Generation

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