Eutierria Mindfulness Garden at the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show 2019

Eutierria garden with textural plants and sweet chestnut decking

The Eutierria Show Garden (pronounced you tee air ia), designed by Neil Sutcliffe and built by Creative Roots, drew inspiration from the cliffs of the River Trent. It was part of the mindfulness category of mood-enhancing spaces at RHS Chatsworth that demonstrate how access to nature and our wellbeing are interlinked. 

Shade tolerant plants supplied by Miles Nurseries channelled the margins of woodland, but with gardenesque touches. White anemone ‘Ruffled Swan’, bronze ajuga, claret astrantia, blue geranium and a froth of tiny, chartreuse yellow alchemilla mollis flowers provided pops of colour against a green, textural planting of fern, moss, hosta, tiarella and brunnera. Trees and shrubs added architecture.  

Eutierria Show Garden with rammed wall, pebble mulch, and green water wall

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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

Memories Of Dad

The rain has been beating down hard against the house in such rage that I went to inspect: it was a hailstorm, on the 2nd of May. My Dad, Jack Rushton, was always in tune with nature, more so than he sometimes was with people. He’d have known if the hail was unusual at this time of year or par for the course. He would have been 90 today. He died too early by any standards: my sister and I never got the chance to relate to him with truly adult minds. Of course some of his messages stay with me.

Bluebells growing on a woodland bank

His love of plants, animals and nature placed the natural world at the centre of things. He knew that English bluebells were the delicate ones, with flowers that hung from just one side of the scape.

He helped make sure my sister and I had the kind of childhood where climbing trees, inspecting stones in streams, crossing moorland, hanging around other people’s allotments, collecting horse pooh for roses, growing plants from seeds, cramming the yard full of so many pots you could hardly wind your way through it, and dissecting owl pellets to see what they had eaten would always seem normal. Continue reading

Pulsatilla vulgaris: an Easter Treat

Purple flowers with yellow stamens

Pulsatilla vulgaris (Pasqueflower) has furry, feathery foliage that catches the light

This garden plant stopped me in my tracks on my walk to the local park. Purple, silken flowers were lit up by a golden boss of stamens; the foliage throwing a silvery mist into the mix.

I’ve never seen pulsatilla growing wild in the UK, and perhaps I never will. This increasingly rare wildflower must be a magical sight. The young, emerging foliage is covered in long hairs creating a halo effect around the buds. Continue reading

Looking Out From The Limestone Paving Above Malham Cove

Fields, trees and a footpath leading to a village viewed from a cliff

View from the limestone pavement over Malham Cove in the Yorkshire Dales

I enjoy walking, especially through a garden or in the countryside, but words (as so often) matter: you’ll find me less keen to set out if the journey might best be described as a climb or hike. So it took my sister (for whom hills are little more than hiccups) several seasons to get my sweetheart and me to accompany her to this point, where we could look out over the edge of a broad expanse of limestone pavement above Malham Cove in Yorkshire. Thanks little sis – it was fun and you know I’d never have done it without you!

You might recognise the pavement from scenes in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows if you’re a fan. I was fascinated by the pavement itself: its deep cracks and the odd bits of ferns and wild flowers that somehow have a foothold on life within it.  Continue reading

The Last Living Thing

A bird on the edge of the Grand Canyon

Transformed into a silhouette, its beak open, the bird on the edge of the Grand Canyon seems more symbol than living creature: something we’ll each interpret under influences as consistent as temperament and experience or as fleeting as a mood. Long time followers may recognise a similar, more uplifting shot, taken nearby.

Coming across the picture and the short poem, Requiem by Kurt Vonnegut, in quick succession, it seemed fitting to put them together here, today.   Continue reading

Finding [urban] Nature | RHS Tatton Park’s F[u]N Garden

If you’re the kind of person who smiles to see plants growing in cracks in (someone else’s) walls and pavements, puzzles over vines emerging from nowhere and loves the summer weeks when Buddleias with masses of arching, lilac-like flowers cling on to ‘seemingly every derelict building‘, this one’s for you.

Community garden on a brownfield site with deckchairs and bunting

I spoke to Roy Lancaster (a lovely fellow) at the Chelsea Flower Show years ago. Identifying me as a fellow Lancastrian by my accent, he told me how a local quarry’s unusual and diverse range of plants were brought to light when a schoolchild took a bunch of flowers to school for a nature project.

An abandoned area of disturbed land where people rarely tread is as good a home, if you happen to be a rare orchid, as anywhere else. Nature doesn’t have any concept of location, location, location – or at least not in the human way, where a house is worth ten times more in one place than in another.

Plants poking through layer of broken bricks and concrete

Plants flower where the seeds happen to fall, if they can. We’ve all seen a tangling of nature and building debris like this: we just don’t expect to see it faithfully recreated and offered up for our consideration at a flower show. Eds Higgins’ Finding [urban] Nature garden (hereafter, the F[u]N garden, following the designer’s styling) imagined a brownfield community garden as part of the RHS Young Designer Competition. Continue reading

Fragile

Tombstone in the woods with Fragile inscribed on it

Visitors who walk through the woodland at Ian Hamilton Finlay’s old home, Little Sparta, in Scotland, happen upon a mossy tombstone placed at an angle between the ferns. Like many of Little Sparta’s artworks – paths, blocks, even beehives – it bears an inscription.  Continue reading

Winter View Of Roddlesworth and Tockholes

Winter trees in silhouette

Trees, silhouetted against sky and Roddlesworth reservoir

“Large and varied, mostly deciduous wood leading to lively, attractive river and reservoirs at bottom of hill. Several visits required to see it all.” – Woodland Trust website 

This picture was taken on an alternative version of our Pie walk. My eye was taken by the effect of the colours and the horizontal and vertical lines. The setting sun’s dim, winter light simplified the scene, adding an unusual atmosphere.  Continue reading

The Discover Challenge: Senses

Moth

The subtle but beautiful animal print pattern on this moth appealed to my sense of touch so much that it was all I could do to stop myself stroking it. The moth was looking for somewhere to rest during daylight. Nothing could deter it from selecting this wooden bench – not even a human being with a camera looming in to take its picture.

I left it in peace. Continue reading