Flowers with backlight effect

Pink daisy flowers made translucent by sunlight

Pink flowers – possibly some form of echinacea – tumbling over each other as if to watch something. They’re at a concert and the ornamental grass is performing on stage, perhaps, or at a football match. An exciting one.

But we know that’s just fancy. Unlike us, the flowers don’t need a reason to be like this, they simply respond at a cellular lever to the sunlight, the soil and whatever moisture they can seek out. Continue reading

RHS Campaign For School Gardens, Chatsworth Flower Show

Mayflower Primary School’s sensory garden, It All Makes Sense, was one of my favourite corners of the Chatsworth Flower Show 2019. If there’s a child in your life, you might like to take some inspiration from these recycled tin cans, painted with cheerful motifs. Pop a herb or a flower in one and you have a tiny garden to enjoy, with potential lessons in art, the environment, nature, nurturing and cookery along the way.

While my secondary school had a small greenhouse, I only have the vaguest memories of going inside it. We never did anything as exciting as making a garden for one of the RHS flower shows. I love it when I see some of the kids who have been involved at the shows, proud of what they’ve achieved and excited to explain to visitors what they were thinking about in this or that part of the garden.

I’m one of the lucky ones. Although my schooldays preceded the RHS Campaign For School Gardens by decades, my childhood was filled with small lessons like these as part of family life. Caterpillars in jars that turned into butterflies. Rose petal scented water. A succulent that grew in a pattern. Owl pellets to pull apart, looking for bones. Flowers to plant. Potatoes to dig (well before their time as we were too excited to wait). Pebbles to pick out of streams. A bat cave to explore. Continue reading

2020 is The Year Of The Hydrangea – Hurray!

Hillside of hydrangeas at Holehird Gardens

Part of the National Collection of Hydrangeas at Holehird Gardens

When I posted yesterday’s picture, I hadn’t realised how on-trend I was. In celebration of this being the Year of the Hydrangea, I want to show the difference between mophead and lacecap hydrangeas.

While mopheads and lacecaps are much the same in growth, habit and overall impression, their flowers have different forms. For most of us, this is a matter of style rather than of botany, as we’re not likely to try to grow hydrangeas from seed.

Pink mophead hydrangea

This mophead hydrangea has big blowsy flower heads

Mophead hydrangeas have round heads packed with individual florets, much as the name implies. They’re the classical hydrangea flower shape, if you will.

Bright pink lace cap hydrangea

A lacecap hydrangea has a lacy cluster of fertile flowers surrounded by a ring of showy bracts

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January Squares: Light Pink Roses

Cluster of pale pink, single rambler rose

Becky at The Life Of B is hosting a new challenge throughout January with the topic of light, or any word ending in light. The main picture has to be square. I don’t find it easy to crop square, unless the picture was originally taken that way (relatively few are), but it’s good to be challenged.

So why this picture? Well, the roses are the lightest shade of pink; the flowers seem like tiny satellite* dishes, catching and reflecting sunlight, and I’m claiming they make a delightful sight.

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Hardy Double Geranium pratense ‘Summer Skies’

Geranium pratense 'Summer Skies': hardy geranium with double flowers

Geranium ‘Summer Skies’ is a clump forming perennial that is hardy in the UK. The flowers are pastel coloured doubles with yellow centres . Tiny central petals form a distinctive, open bowl shape. You’ll see the base colour described as sky blue (sky-blue pink is, for once, more accurate); the colour tends to deepen as the flowers age. Dissected foliage and branching stems complete the picture.

The overall effect is ethereal – if fairies were cavorting in and around geraniums, these would be the ones they’d choose. Continue reading

Vortex Garten, Darmstadt: A Philosopher’s Garden

Henry Nold, the owner occupant of Haus Martinus in Mathildenhoehe, created the Vortex Garden (garten in German) in its grounds as a sanctuary. Born poor, he allows access to his garden free of charge to members of the public in the hope that they will find peace and inspiration there.

White door with arc window and colour chip border

The ideal solution for those of us who are unsure which colour to choose for our door

Haus Martinus is a listed, Art Nouveau-style villa, built in 1921 by Jan Hubert Pinand. Garden visitors don’t have access to the villa, but a deluxe suite of rooms can be rented, and concerts are sometimes held there. It must be a memorable place to stay.

Haus Martinus's porch is decorated with tiles and motifs

Tiles and motifs decorate the Haus Martinus’s covered porch that looks out over the Vortex Garden

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Cothay Manor’s Courtyard Garden

Topiary, tree fern and summer flowers in Cothay Manor's courtyard garden

Flowers spilled from a stone planter in the courtyard

One of the nicest things about blogging is the ability to share a peek into a magical place. I’d not be surprised to hear that even some of the people who have visited Cothay Manor have left without experiencing the courtyard garden. I happened upon it as if by mistake on my second or third circuit of the garden. It seemed such an intimate space that I asked the lady quietly gardening there whether visitors were welcome.

Path through topiary, rock stack, seating to Cothay Manor

Accessories included pieces of stone balanced on a wooden pillar

She assured me I was welcome and we talked a little about roses. The walls of the manor are clothed with roses and other vines, including Rosa mutabilis trained as a magnificent climber which I had not seen done before. We’d missed seeing most of the roses in full flower, but there was plenty more to admire. Continue reading