Gimme Shelter In A Peony Seed Husk

Peony foliage in autumn colours in a border at Trentham Gardens

Peony foliage in autumn colours at Trentham Gardens

Years ago, the RAC used The Rolling Stones’ haunting Gimme Shelter in a TV commercial where a lone lady’s car breaks down in the dark and a black knight on a shining motorbike pulls up to fix it for her. It was more atmospheric and persuasive than my summary gives credit: although I doubt TV advertising (like all intrusive advertising) works as well as the sales team would claim, in this case it triggered a purchase. I bought the (wrong) Rolling Stones CD to try to get a copy. I’m just that bit too young to be truly knowledgeable about the band and thought I was looking for 2000 Light Years From Home, a good title for a stranded lady.

Ladybird sheltering in a peony seed husk

Ladybird sheltering in a peony seed husk

Gimme Shelter sprang to mind when I spotted this ladybird.  I’d have cropped in a bit tighter but liked the dramatic effect of the wizened seed capsules, hard, almost ugly against the splendour of the fiery foliage; the feeling of disarray. Continue reading

What’s In A Picture: Trillium Leaves

I am sometimes asked why I need more pictures. I’m not the world’s best photographer, my camera is an iPhone in my bag or pocket (so readily available) and I like to practice. Well, that’s my excuse. A true one, but it misses the point.

It’s hard to explain the feelings I have when I look at this, good picture or bad picture. It might seem weird to write them down, but we’re blogging here, aren’t we? A personal blog’s all about riffing on whatever catches our attention, wondering if there’s anyone in the world who will follow our train of thought and pinching our arms in astonishment at those who tolerantly do. So…what do I feel when I look at this picture? Continue reading

Six on Saturday: Trentham Gardens in Late September

Dark leaves, with bronze autumn colour and a white flower spike

1. Actea simplex showing burnished autumn colour

I didn’t really want to go to a garden, but I forced myself. Hours sitting in a traffic jam (more accurately, a series of traffic jams) had taken their toll and, although Trentham Gardens was not far out of my way, I wasn’t feeling it.

As I was wavering, I remembered once calling a friend, MVM, to get out of going to see some gardens as I was not feeling well. He said “You’ll be sorry! You’ll like it! There’ll be flowers!”. I went, and it was that day I got to know my sweetheart. The influence of the two of them, spreading as it does over time and space, was powerful enough for me steer my car away from the default path, up the M6, to invest in all the things we invest in when we visit a garden.  Continue reading

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

Sunlight Attack

Mossy bank with wild geranium leaf backlit by sun

Usually there are plenty of opportunities to pick an overcast day if we’re planning to visit a garden or, if not, at least chances to wait for a cloud. But this year is different. Unrelenting sunshine is not usually a big issue in northern England but Texan-style blue skies (with not a cloud in sight all day long) are all the rage.   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