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

Leaves And Branches

Taking pictures of tree canopies is not that easy with an iPhone, but blue sky, branches and tree leaves have a magnetic effect on my attention, so I keep on trying.

And I’m happy with this one. I have no idea where it was taken. Though I could hunt through my files and find out, it really doesn’t matter. It’s not about the place, but the feeling. For me, this tree neatly wraps up natural beauty, abstract pattern and an emotional experience all in one. It’s uplifting. It rewards the eye that lingers and traces out a few of the branches.  Continue reading

Playing With Lines And Colour

Buildings, people and cars reflected in a metallic surface

This week’s photo challenge is a strange one at first reading. It’s about a different style of portraiture:

Explore silhouettes, shadows, orientation, and other ways to mask your subject… Explore the use of anonymity to express both that which is common to all of us and the uniqueness that stands out even when the most obvious parts of us are hidden.

I’m not a portrait photographer so I planned to sit this one out, until I remembered this series of pictures I had so much fun taking.  Continue reading

A Visit To Harlow Carr Garden In Winter

Colourful Winter Garden

In January, dogwood steals the show in Harlow Carr’s Winter Walk

We set off for Harrogate on a whim, inspired by the weather forecast, and booked into a hotel within walking distance from the RHS’s most northerly garden, Harlow Carr, a favourite haunt. The idea was to wake up next morning to find an artistic covering of snow or a hard frost – the added winter garden ingredients only nature can provide.

The forecast had been an exaggeration but, luckily, it turns out that a winter wonderland doesn’t need snow: it can cloak itself just as wonderfully in reds, oranges, browns and greens.

Snowdrops in a winter garden with a sprinkling of snow

Early bulbs are starting to appear, including these snowdrops (Galanthus elwesii ‘Mrs Macnamara’).

We were too early to see the thousands of snowdrops, cyclamen, irises and eranthis hyemalis that will be at their peak in February and March. A small number of the advance guard could be spotted in flower in the woods, along the Winter Walk or sheltered in the glasshouse, giving a hint of the pleasure to come. But if you find yourself wondering whether a winter garden really has anything much of interest to offer in January, other than peace, you’ll find plant after plant lining up as if to say: ‘You misjudged me. You doubted there would be colour.’

Continue reading

First Wintry Walk Of 2018: To Darwen Tower

Brambles and moss, covered in frost

A New Year’s walk up to Darwen’s Jubilee Tower has become a tradition. I’ve been a little under the weather over the holidays (just a nasty cold), so when we finally took the plunge, it felt extra-good to brave the fresh, winter air and get out for some exercise.

Darwen Tower

Darwen Tower may look warm under the glow of late afternoon sun, but anyone who has ever made the climb will vouch for the wind chill factor up there, even on a summer’s day. Continue reading

Leafy Coleus With Beautifully Patterned Leaves

Leafy plant with green and purple leaves

Some plants have to wait for flowers to become colourful. Others, like this coleus, don’t. Purple, bright pink and cream splashes and veins do their best to crowd out the lime green, creating a bouquet on every leaf. Some varieties actually do flower very well, but for me, the tall spires of salvia-like flowers merely gild the lily… er, make that gild the coleus.  Continue reading

Cheeky Roadside Memorabilia (With A Coulrophobia Warning)

Retro advertising signs and characters

I’m sharing these pictures, taken in the backyard at Austin’s Roadhouse Relics, for the weekly photo challenge, cheeky. I recommend you take a look at the other submissions, if only to see Michelle’s cheeky parrot, shared for our inspiration.

The figures along the roof are the cheeky bit in this picture, although the picture is doubling as a delaying tactic as I know there are increasing amounts of people with a fear of clowns.

I assume quite a few of these are not familiar with the term coulrophobia, which makes me wonder why we give such strange terms to fears. Believe me, if you have a phobia, you want a good clear warning. Obfustication is the last thing you need with danger approaching (that word must have more than a hint of irony in it, surely?).

But, to back to my ~~~warning~~~ if you share this fear, please look no further.  Continue reading

Happiness In A Vase: Zinnias

Bunch of zinnias

This sweet little posy of zinnias was all the nicer for being a gift from Jim Rosenblatt. His official title may be Dean Emeritus of The Mississippi College School of Law, but he wears the unofficial title of Plant Enthusiast with the same self-depreciation and benevolent good nature.

Several years ago, he created a cutting / kitchen garden in an unused corner of the faculty’s parking lot. The soil is rich and crumbly now, after years of being tended, making the plot very productive. These zinnias were freshly gathered from there.

I wonder how many other people have benefitted from gifts of peppers, tomatoes, herbs and flowers from his car park plot? Many more will have their day brightened by spotting this city centre garden as they passed.  Continue reading