A rose tease

A digitally modified rose, turned lavender

It feels very naughty to digitally manipulate the colour of roses to move them away from reality. So I don’t do it often. My incentive for this tomfoolery was that, browsing through other bloggers’ interpretations for the Weekly Photo Challenge: Layered, I saw lots of flowers, and couldn’t resist joining in with some double flowered roses of my own.  Continue reading

At The St Louis City Museum of Fun

View through a screen at St Louis City Museum

The weekly photo challenge asks us to share something that is layered, with depth, density or texture. My first choice is a view through a mesh screen into a cafe in St Louis’s City Museum. It’s not really called the City Museum of Fun, but it’s a play house for all ages, and a bewilderingly fertile gathering of inspiration and creativity.

How many galleries can you think of that hold family sleepovers – i.e. can persuade whole families to spend that much time in a museum? The longer I was there, the more I felt like my head was going to explode with impressions.

A pair of retro robots

In the midst of the madness, the repose of these retro robots completely captured my heart – although I’d have felt a bit worried if the closest one had started shaking that cocktail shaker. Continue reading

Autumn Crocuses: Colchicums Are Just Alright, Right?

There are many plants I know I like. If you come here often, chances are, you could name a few of them too. Roses. Peonies. Blue poppies. Hellebores… I could go on. They don’t even need to have showy flowers – I love demure shade plants as much as anything. But colchicums? I’ve never given colchicums much thought. Not even the double forms I’ve seen, those waterlilies of the earth. As flowers go, I’d have said they were just alright.

Colchicums are flowers out of season: living mixed metaphors. Their appearance heralds Autumn, with its rich ripeness and decay, but by putting out fresh, soft growth. Their ankle-high colours seem to cry out ‘Spring!’ in error, oblivious that all the leaves on the trees way above are considering whether it would still be premature for them to twist, redden and fall in their yearly ritual.  Continue reading

Sempervivum ‘Lady Kelly’: A Beautiful, Unusual Form Of Hen And Chicks

Sempervivum 'Lady Kelly' (hen and chicks)

Sempervivum ‘Lady Kelly’ with one chick growing out sideways from its mother (front, left).

Many people know sempervivum as houseleek, or hen and chicks, which celebrates the plantlets produced as offsets. It is monocarpic which means the original rosette-like plant will reach flowering size after several years’ growth, then after flowering once, will shrivel and die, being succeeded by its chicks of various ages and any seedlings.

Sempervivum ‘Lady Kelly’ seems to be a rare form. The place where I saw it (Beth Chatto’s nursery) didn’t have any for sale and when I searched for one to buy online, I couldn’t find any source, let alone an equally reputable one.*

The rich lavender – blue – grey colouring was very striking in real life against the greens and corals. I fell immediately in love with the plant and ‘Blue Boy’ a similarly coloured sempervivum cultivar that I might share in a future post.  Continue reading

A Plant With Structure And A Woodland Mystery

Paris polyphylla

It’s hard to explain the allure of woodland plants to those who are not susceptible to their charms. I can never resist poking around in a shaded area when I visit a new garden, looking to see what spring ephemerals I missed out on when they were in flower and making a mental promise to come back next year – or at least one year. And so it was at Beth Chatto’s famous garden this weekend.  Continue reading

A Sense of Place: Wooden Beehives In Heather

Little Sparta

The heather is flowering at the moment, turning green hillsides purple. While we have lots of heather on Darwen Moor, I haven’t seen it looking as pretty as in these two pictures, both taken in Scotland during a recent trip. The first shows the view looking outwards from Little Sparta, home of the late poet Ian Hamilton Finlay and his wife, Sue. I highly recommend a visit.

Taking a long, but scenic detour on our way home, we happened upon these wooden beehives next to a stream in a Scottish valley. If it is true that the highest quality of honey comes from bees able to forage in unspoiled, natural surroundings, I would love to sample a jar from these hives.

Wooden beehives in Scottish heather with a stream running by

Continue reading