Fingers Burnt By Plants (Or Is It The Plants Getting Burnt?)

Tiarella flowers

Tiarella flowers setting the trends at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show

Love isn’t always requited between humans & plants, but we shouldn’t allow the lamentable failure of a relationship to thrive to put us off one type of plant entirely. Easy to say, but harder to venture a tender heart the second time around.

I was first acquainted with a brownish heuchera that lived in a hanging basket in an out of the way place, seemingly never watered. Most of the soil had fallen out and only a spindly root system prevented the heuchera from going the same way. The plant never looked great, but you had to respect its toughness. I can’t claim to have fallen in love; at best we were on nodding terms.

Contrasting brown, green and purple leaves covered in raindrops

Heucherella ‘Redstone Falls’ with contrasting varieties

Inspired by that one, I went on to grow several heucheras, tiarellas and their hybrid, heucherellas, using their mounds of patterned leaves as ground cover. They really are plants you can paint land with, in England, at least. Unsurprisingly, I found myself getting fond of them.  Continue reading

Flowers From The Farm: Locally Grown and Eco-Friendly

Roses, mallows, sweet peas, and antirrhinums with foliage

The topic of flower miles is one of the secrets in the closet of the cut flower industry. I travel a good few miles myself so can’t be too judgemental. It’s easier to grow big blousy roses in cool mountains, near to the equator where the days and nights don’t vary in length that much during the year – places like Kenya and Colombia. The supply chains that bring the roses from overseas farms to our homes are longer and more complicated than most people would think.

I remember watching a flower auction in Japan – most flowers we buy in Europe come through a similar auction hub in Holland. If you know how much care, thought and anxiety go into producing flowers in any part of the world, it’s chastening to see them reduced to commodities.

Boxed up flowers are opened briefly on stage and shown to assembled buyers in a room laid out like a lecture theatre. Models trying not to wilt after a long distance flight without water would seem a good analogy, but the flowers had better not be wilting at this point as they have many more miles to travel. Buyers hold their nerves as the price ticks down like a clock. The quicker they press, the more they’ll pay per box. If someone else snaps them up first, it’s game over.

White mallow flowers

You might have noticed by now that some of the flowers illustrated simply can’t be transported that way. They have been grown by Flowers From The Farm’s members for their display at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show. The society promotes British grown flowers that don’t accrue air miles, being sold as locally as possible.  Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: Windows

Neon green luchador mask

Neon green luchador mask by Todd Saunders with reflections from the studio window

These images would seem a mismatch, were it not for the weekly photo challenge. We were lucky to meet Todd Saunders earlier this year at his studio in Austin, Texas. He crafts neon artwork with a retro, pop art style. Todd also collects roadside iconography and fairground relics (if you have a clown phobia, don’t ask to go in the backyard). His studio has one of the most instantly recognisable walls in Austin. It is tempting to abandon thoughts of windows and post about Todd instead, but… (masters the impulse)… that’s best left for another day when I can do him justice.

For today, I’ll just point out the weird effect created by photographing the luchador mask through a window and superimposing power lines, blue sky, clouds and a tree. If we could see thoughts, they might look something like this. I love the distressed effect of the metal too.   Continue reading

September flower posy

Small posy

Looking through my photo library, I stumbled upon one of my favourite September flower posy pictures. It’s small and as simple as they come. I was going to add that it’s unstructured, but I’ve just noticed a bit of a colour block effect going on.

The rose is Rosa ‘Wildeve’, one of my favourite garden roses. Its companions are tiny sprigs of achillea, aster, and veronica bonariensis with centaurea buds. They look just as pretty in a vase as they looked growing together in the garden.

It’s for anyone who would like a floral pick me up.  Continue reading

Weekly Photo Challenge: A Phoenix From The Ashes

Gnome waiting to be rehomed

This week’s photo challenge is Repurpose. It’s difficult to know where to start with that one. My sweetheart has trashed out his house and garden – I could say ‘enhanced’, if wearing my marketing hat – in countless ways, egged on by architect friend Rick Griffin and Jim Kapernick. Jim is proprietor of Old House Depot, a 20,000 sq ft cornucopia of architectural salvage in Jackson, MS.

Together, they are the most purposeful repurposers you could imagine.

Broken concrete? That would be perfect for a path. Old wood? Old wood has more uses than I care to list. Tyres? My sweetheart’s garden boasts colourful tyre planters, tyre chairs, and even some tyre-planter-spare-bits arranged to form wall decor and a small tree. Well, you have to do something with the spare bits.  Continue reading