My end of year post is not about which posts were the most popular in 2019 or the most fun to write or the pictures I’m most proud to have taken. It’s about the pictures I’m sick of seeing languishing in photo files waiting for the ‘right’ post.
For several years, I’ve bewailed the lack of pictures for my posts when I’m over in the US with my sweetheart. I always have quite a lot of pictures with me, but not always the ones I want. Before setting off for Mississippi this autumn, I edited hundreds of pictures and filed them neatly away in folders marked ‘School Gardens’, ‘Daisies’, ‘Barbara Hepworth’, ‘Hydrangeas’, ‘Leaves’, etc.
I had a few weeks of smugness before coming to accept that I had far too many pictures lined up, waiting for words to complete them. Why that should have been an issue, I couldn’t say – perhaps just another form of imbalance. The picture files were more reproach than resource.
Over the autumn, I’ve looked in this or that file and wondered whether today might be the day when these particular pictures would appear not just useful, but imperative enough to claim their right of precedence over any of the other ones. Don’t get me wrong – some have made it out, but most are still languishing. Today I’m releasing some of the ones that have been tormenting me most.
To put it more nicely, these are the ones I’ve gotten fond of, as they say in the Deep South (or at least that’s what I think they’d say. After ten years or so, my ideas of what I say and what they say have got blurred).
I can hardly believe I’ve never used this picture of hydrangeas before (pause while I double check – no, I haven’t). I even wrote a post about Arley Hall and couldn’t find room for it.
I’ve been trying to get a decent picture of this auricula theatre for several years. The issue is getting the lines fairly straight between the arch of the doorway and the wooden frame. This is about as good as it’s likely to get and in publishing this, I release myself from the quest. In support of my contention that every detail at Gresgath Garden is interesting, I present the boot scraper, part of a pair to speed progress if multiple visitors need to de-mud before entering.
Chair backs always interest me. They’re the kind of excess we embrace when trying to make a splendid thing even better. I would have thought you were supposed to decorate the back of the back, if you follow me, so someone can still sit on the chair without flattening the flowers. Perhaps this chair is not intended for seating, but for something else – a guest book perhaps?
I am proud that I managed to write the second in my (clearly very occasional) series of posts on Great Companion Plants For Cottage Gardens: Geraniums. The first, in 2017, was about Astrantias. Sadly, my files still contain many spare geranium pictures, even after including what anyone would consider an ample sufficiency in my post. This is one of the leftovers: there are others in there clamouring for my… no, make that our attention.
Woodland geraniums lead me nicely to thinking about our many walks during 2019. This picture was taken in Sunnyhurst Woods, on the path where the Victorian park backs on to farmland below the Jubilee Tower, bordered by a stream where the the fairy bridges are. Earlier in the year, the wood is thick with bluebells, but when summer comes it’s the turn of ferns, buttercups and foxgloves. Often wild foxgloves are a bit on the weedy side, but this one was splendid enough for any fine garden. Here is the same flower in context:
I love the way this old path divides and rejoins. Each path is sufficient for one person, taking their choice of routes, still side by side, but keeping the tree to the left or the right; walking the straightest way or seeking out the edges. Small, repeated choices give the delight of free will and independence even though we walk together, the paths go to the same place, and every possible route has been laid out by a succession of other feet. You can hardly walk through an English wood without feeling this at some point, even though you might not fully articulate the thought.
The fenced path to the Singing Ringing Tree wind sculpture allows no such options. When we visited earlier this year we found three guardians in it.
At least one had horns – little ones, but ones I’d not have cared to tangle with should the animal have taken exception to our presence. There being no obvious route around the cows, and as they appeared calm, we cautiously passed. It made a weird experience just that little stranger.
This house on Red Bank is just across the lake from Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s Grasmere home. The architecture is interesting, but the hillside of rhododendrons made this scene for me.
I shared this picture on Instagram, during a brief flurry of activity. I want you to take a moment to imagine me grumbling about Instagram – just a bit, mind. If Instagram holds treasure for me, it is still to be mined. At least I did not delete it as I did my Facebook account.
I have a book called ‘Reviews of Unwritten Books’ by Frederick Rolfe – actually, several volumes. The author imagined how famous people would write about a subject, then criticised them for how they’d gone about it. And that’s what this post is starting to feel like – a review of posts I should have written in 2019 but didn’t or posts I did write, but didn’t push to their ultimate conclusion. I have written about East Ruston here but barely scratched the surface. Perhaps next year? It’s an interesting garden, perhaps even the Hidcote of its day.
2019 was a good year for roses, mainly because of my visit to a single glorious garden, RHS Rosemoor. Drafting this post inspired me to write yesterday’s gallery post featuring Rosa ‘Darcey Bussell’ rather than just add one of the pictures in here. I wonder if it will prove even half as popular as the one on Rosa ‘Lady Emma Hamilton’, which has been a top ten post since 2015, thanks to Pinterest?
Room for one more? Which shall it be?
Thanks for staying with me while I got this lot off my chest. I appreciate having had your company during 2019 more than I can say and wish you a very happy, creative and healthy 2020.