Stone Angel

Angel's face

As a Doctor Who fan, I really ought not to like stone angels as much as I do. My sweetheart loves to visit cemeteries in his quest for tough plants (‘flowers even dead people can grow’). We often see cherubs but the more characterful angels, like this one holding out a lily in remembrance, are rare.  Continue reading

Crafts Style Wrought Iron Tree Gate

House gate with ginkgo shaped leaf pattern

Our landscape architect friend, Rick Griffin, says that the best way to add personality to a house is by doing something a bit special at the entrance. I like visiting Shrewsbury – I’ve written about it before – but of all the wonderful places there, the one I’d most like to receive an invite to is this private house. I know nothing at all about the people who live there, but by looking at their gate (plus a few peeks over their garden wall) I’ve formed an impression about them.  Continue reading

Geranium x oxonianum

Pale pink geranium with purple lace pattern

I’m a big fan of hardy geraniums and keep promising myself the luxury of a post to share some of the pictures I have gathered of them. The trouble is, they are so rarely labelled. I think this dainty beauty is G. x oxonianum ‘Lace Time’ (or similar). It’s hard to be certain as there are so many named varieties of these hardy geraniums, and often considerable colour variation even within the same clump, as you see.

Setting the difficulties of identification aside, I like the contrast between the flowers in this little cluster. The one on the right looks particularly radiant.  Continue reading

Gate leading into wildflower field with foxgloves

Hay Time In The Dales: People’s Choice Award Winner At RHS Chatsworth

Chris Myers and I were chuffed to bits by the turn of events at The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show last week. We both had good reason. After a slow start (the judges’ Silver Medal theoretically rated it worst in show), the garden he’d designed was validated by the popular vote, being named the one the public loved most. Me? I’d been rooting for it!

Foxgloves and wildflowers growing beside a cottage

Naturalistic plantings were a theme of this year’s show, but his garden was a hymn in praise of wildflowers (or more of a folksong). I enjoyed lingering awhile, listening to the sighs of pleasure as people glimpsed Hay Time In The Dales for the first time and felt its emotional pull. I knew this garden would haunt me, and it already is.

I thought of it when our evening walk took us past a flower-rich hay meadow between Edgworth and the Wayoh Reservoir. Around its peak now, the wildflowers include buttercups, yellow rattle, meadow vetchling, red clover, wild blue lupins, and a blend of grasses. A public information sign beside the meadow explains this patch of land represents what is now one of the rarest habitats in the UK.

It all seems so normal, and that’s part of the problem.    Continue reading

Six on Saturday From The RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

I’m joining in with The Propagator to share my six favourite plants from the ongoing UK flower show that runs until Sunday 10th June. It’s a good discipline to be just allowed six, but you should know there was a small battle for every one of these slots. I hope I’ll not be the only one this week to share pictures from Chatsworth, as I’d love to see other people’s highlights. Here goes:

  1. Digitalis ‘Foxlight Rose Ivory’

Pink foxglove flowers with speckled, cream throat

Looking this up online, the first search result is a data card for trade sellers, saying: ‘…bold novelty colors boost retail appeal and drive impulse sales’. I’m sure they will! I had thought this foxglove was part of the Illumination series, but was puzzled by the pointed lip, so was pleased to find I’d photographed the label. This doesn’t always happen, especially if I am over-excited to see the plant.

2. Polemonium ‘Northern Lights’

Polemonium cultivar with blue backed flowers, lighter inside

I’ve always had a soft spot for polemoniums. This cultivar has a radiance because the lighter centres of the flowers are displayed against lavender blue petal reverses. The yellowy-orange stamens help too.

3. Gaura ‘Rosy Jane’

White gaura flowers with a pronounced pink edge

I love gaura (butterfly bush), even though it does much better in my sweetheart’s Mississippi garden than it ever did in my own tiny Lancashire one. Continue reading

Highlights of the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2018

Model in white dress and flowery hat

Model with flowery hat at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

As we wound around Derbyshire’s beautiful but narrow Peak District roads towards our sneak preview of the Chatsworth Flower Show yesterday, knowing how limestone has shaped the environment, making the ground glitter in places, I thought of one of my favourite poems: W.H. Auden’s ‘In Praise Of Limestone’.

I love the poem’s conversational style, but its abrupt changes of tone and subject matter might not suit everyone. Just as we can only read a poem from within the landscape of our own mind, we can only ever experience a flower show from our own perspective. My idea of tasty flowers and planting schemes might not be yours.

Labrador dog in a show garden at RHS Chatsworth Flower Show

‘The Great Outdoors’ by Phil Hurst won Chatsworth Gold…

This year’s Best in Show award, for example, went to an attractive display with a lot of interesting elements, including the characterful wooden arbour, bench and water feature. Continue reading

Bye, Weekly Photo Challenge!

The last ever weekly photo challenge is titled ‘All Time Favourites’ – give or take ‘u’. It’s hard to mark the passing of this much loved event appropriately.  I’m starting off by sharing a few  favourite shots I’ve been saving until the right prompt came around. I’m pretty sure these would never have seen the light of day now the challenge is ending so, while there’s still time, here goes!

Utility box with painting of tree and street scene

Jane Brewster’s street art shows part of the New Orleans street it is on, if my memory is correct. I like the way life plays with art and the dark shadows echo the dark trunk of the painted tree in this image. It provokes lots of ideas, for example, my eye plays with the angles of the shadows and the perspective in the painting. It’s funny how life seems to be framing the painting and how life seems more abstract than art. In retrospect I could have used it for ‘Reflections’, although it would have been a fairly subtle connection.  Continue reading

Naturalistic Bottle Trees by Stephanie Dwyer

Tree-shaped wire frames covered in blue bottles

Bottle tree installation at the Shangri La Botanical Gardens in Orange, Texas

Many bottle trees you’ll see – assuming you see bottle trees at all – are stiff. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but Southern folklore metal artist, Stephanie Dwyer, sets hers apart by making them sinuous and twisty, like real trees.

Bottle tree with colourful bottles with shacks

Bottle tree at Shack Up Inn, bent over as if by the wind

Her iconic bottle tree, part of a series inspired by Hurricane Katrina, channels lone trees all over the world, carved into art forms by the wind on some exposed ridge. It seems to grow out of the turf at the Sack Up Inn, and to nod with respect and resilience to its shadow.   Continue reading