Tuesday, 28 July 2009

A Postcard From France

B IS FOR?



BOUND FOR BRITTANY!

Which is what I was doing last week travelling through Normandy, along the coast southwards in the direction of Brittany. The photograph was taken in the small town of Lessay. I am now in Brittany in the little coastal town of Binic where the weather is currently reasonably balmy but breezy. Bumbling around here for a couple more days yet before travelling on.

Make a beeline for ABC Wednesday where there be more posts on the letter B.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Keeping It In The Family

A IS FOR?




AFRICAN VIOLET

Along with my mum's talent with the needle and paintbrush I wish I had inherited her genes when it comes to growing houseplants. One look from me and they usually shriek in horror and curl up their toes in due course. Mum however is a dab hand with all sorts of houseplants especially African violets and orchids. I am delighted to say that that after a couple of unsuccessful attempts, I seem to be doing better with getting this specimen established. I bought a little cutting home with me in April and now look !

ABC Wednesday hosted by Denise Nesbitt is back at the beginning of the alphabet - why not amble over there now to have a peek at more posts on the letter A.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

"As Graceful And Green As A Stem"


"If your life is a leaf that the seasons tear off and condemn
they will bind you with love that is graceful and green as a stem.
"
~ from "Sisters of Mercy" - Leonard Cohen

The title of this post may be misleading as this post is not gardening related. I know that he is not to everyone's taste but this man's music was a big influence in my late teens/early twenties along with that of the slightly younger Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel. Many a night as students we sat round a record player (now a relic of past times) listening to their albums, drinking coffee/cider/wine and inhaling cigarette fumes etc. I ignored the taunts of some friends, particularly of the male gender, that Cohen's music was "music to slash your wrists" to and was delighted to get the chance to see him at what was the Newcastle Playhouse and Gulbenkian Studio sometime in the 1970s. I remember throughly enjoying the experience.

Well many moons later the opportunity arose to see him again. We now have the opportunity to go to concerts at the still comparatively new Echo Arena in Liverpool which has a capacity of about 10,000. This is within half an hours drive from home and does not involve any motorway travel which I thoroughly dislike,so all and all an ideal venue for us. Since the arena opened we have attended several concerts and have now seen all of the above artists with the exception of Art Garfunkel. Firstly an excellent evening with Paul Simon, followed earlier this year by a most disappointing evening with Bob Dylan. I had waited the best part of over thirty years to see him and what a let down. Absolutely no interaction with the audience and a somewhat perfunctory rush through songs which were hard to recognise. For me the only moving song of the evening was "Something" written by George Harrison which of course being played in Liverpool sent a quiver down the collective spine of the audience.

So it was with a bit of trepidation on my behalf that we set off earlier this week to see Leonard Cohen. Sometimes I have concluded that it is unwise to revisit events/places from the past. However my apprehension was completely unfounded. Like vintage wine he has improved with age. Now well into his seventies Cohen skipped onto the stage and held the audience spellbound. He was surrounded by excellent musicians especially the Spanish guitarist Javier Mas and backing singers including his writing collaborator Sharon Robinson as well as the Webb Sisters. He really seemed to put his whole heart and being into the evening. It was as if he was singing every song for the first time and singing it with love. He seemed delighted and surprised by the standing ovation from the audience. A truly magical evening and a truly humble and charming musician and poet !

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - July

 
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Although still high summer hints of autumn lurk in the garden - the elderflowers are now developing berries and the glowing white chestnut candles of May are now conkers in waiting. I have been participating in Garden Bloggers Bloom Day since March this year and as the year unfolds I have noticed that my colour palette is dominated by pinks, blues, shades of purple and white as well as green. There are very few reds, yellows and oranges in the garden. I must do something to rectify this sorry state of affairs.

Top row - left to right - geranium pratense 'Plenum Caeruleum', geranium' Salome' and rosa 'The Fairy' - this does not come into flower into July but then flowers for a long spell.

Middle row - left to right - astrantia maxima,unknown heuchera and petunias in a container and verbascum 'Jackie in Pink'

Bottom row left to right - a buddleia obtained as a cutting from my parent's garden, geranium pratense 'Plenum Violaceum' and what I think is geranium 'Rozanne' but it did not have a label when I bought it. I rescued it from the bargain shelf of our local Homebase store where it was looking rather worse for wear. I think that she was suffering from extreme dehydration and neglect so I am glad that I bought her home with me.

More June blooms can be added to the ever growing wish list at May Dreams Gardens hosted by Carol.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Alphabet's End

Z IS FOR?



ZUCCHINI !


"Zucchinis terrific!
Like bunnies, prolific!"


~ Author Unknown

When my Italian mother first came to England in the 1950s zucchini were not an item stocked by greengrocers much to her disappointment. So when my father got an allotment in the 1970s one of the first vegetables he grew were zucchini,using seeds sent by Italian relatives. His first crop was viewed with great suspicion by his plot neighbours but they soon became converts.

I have carried on the family tradition and would not be without zucchini plants at the allotment. This year I am growing 'Romanesco', 'Defender' and 'Green Bush'. The zucchini in the above photo are the first of the 'Romanesco' which we dined on at the weekend. The onions in the pan are also from the allotment. I added some tomato sauce to the pan and the final concoction went down nicely with a plate of pasta.

As we reach the the zenith of the alphabet more zany posts on the letter Z can be enjoyed at ABC Wednesday kindly hosted by Denise Nesbitt.

P.S. Fifty years on zucchini abound on supermarket shelves but greengrocers sadly seem less prolific on our high streets.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Full Circle



It's funny how you often come round to where you first started and this includes plant buying habits. When I started planting the garden here I was besotted with hardy geraniums. Slowly though I went on to develop other addictions and although the love affair has never ended I have not added to my geraniums for some time. They still must have a hold over me for it was a stall with a prominent display of hardy geraniums that caught my attention at a recent garden festival. So my Arley Hall haul included two new to me hardy geraniums - pratense 'Summer Skies' and 'Pink Penny'. The former is a double with very soft lilac tinges and the latter reminds me of geranium 'Buxton's Blue' but with pink flowers. I also bought an old friend whose name escapes me at the moment. It's too dark and wet out there to a go and check the label now. It is a rather delicate geranium which has a trailing habit and very small white flowers. I have managed to kill this off before but thought that I would give it another go. Also coming home with me were achillea 'Jacqueline', verbena rigida (smaller and more stocky than verbena bonariensis), some Redbor kale and for having the pleasure of inhaling its scent -a lemon verbena. On the subject of verbena bonariensis I have a surfeit of seedlings at the allotment and must make sure that I do not let any of the fully grown plants set seed this year. Famous last words :)

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Feeling Rosy - The Sequel 2



This is 'Félicité Parmentier', the second of the roses that arrived from Peter Beales Roses in January as bare rooted plants.



I was most taken by her when we visited the Queens Garden at
Sudeley Castle
, Gloucestershire last summer. As far as fragrance is concerned it does not make me swoon and probably does not carry on the air. Himself gave it the nose test and the verdict was ''lemon sherbet" which I thought was spot on. I am still most pleased with her as a new addition to the garden. I am now trying to decide on a clematis as a companion. She should grow to about 4 feet high and have a girth of about 3 feet. Suggestions would be most welcome.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Two's Company

Y IS FOR?



YOUNG LOVE!

We came across this couple at the RHS Garden in Rosemoor, Devon one afternoon last August. We quickly tiptoed away so as not to disturb them.

On the subject of the alphabet I came across a fascinating newspaper story today about a Google alphabet found in Britain's hedgerows, roads and buildings. The young woman who compiled it decided to hunt down perfect Google Earth images representing all 26 letters of the alphabet whilst she was recovering from a serious road accident. It was interesting to note that she had difficulties finding K,N and especially Q. The article and all 26 photos can be seen here - do have a peek !

You can see more posts on the letter Y over on ABC Wednesday - yaaaaaaaay!

Monday, 6 July 2009

Spot the Gnome!



The last Sunday in June was oh so hot! The perfect excuse for me to persuade himself to take time off from a major domestic plumbing job. Instead of having his head stuck under a bath I persuaded him to accompany me to a garden festival. No that's not him above but this manly chip off the old block was wearing the perfect headwear for the day. His arms must get tired though!

Our destination was the nearby Arley Hall which is about a twenty minutes drive away. This was the fifteenth Arley Hall Garden Festival . We have seen the event grow over the years. From a small affair there are now about forty nurseries selling as well as gardening accessories and other stalls.

We had to enter through the back way this year ~



- a shame as some visitors may well have missed out on the impressive avenue of pleached limes at the front ~




We were serenaded by this rather smartly attired trio before we made tracks for the floral marquee ~


Unlike the Chelsea Flower Show gnomes are not personae non gratae at Arley - see if you can spot the little chap lurking in the flowers ~




A dazzling display of hostas but with some of the miniatures costing up to £18 a plant, I was not prepared to risk providing my slugs and snails with a free breakfast ~




I admired this iris ensata 'Rose Queen' but was not tempted ~



Back out again from a most humid and muggy marquee into the open air. We enjoyed looking at the entries in a children's competition ~




There are no show gardens at Arley but many of the nurseries had put together attractive little display areas ~







Then of course down to the serious business of the day - plant perusal and oh what a choice ! ~





We finished our visit to the festival with a stroll round the beautiful gardens. Arley is famous for its double herbaceous border which was at its peak ~





I could have quite happily settled here for a snooze once we had walked round the garden but resisted the temptation ~



Of course I bought some plants and will 'fess up later this week as to what came home with me !

Saturday, 4 July 2009

A Worisit ?



I was recently chatting plants with my sister on the phone as we are wont to do. She told me that she had found a plant in her garden which she does not remember planting :) Her verbal description of "Well it's sort of like a frilly white iris" left me scratching my head, so she promised to email me a photo which arrived today. A brief description accompanied the photo "It was in flower about 2 weeks ago and about 12" tall. Just two leaves from the base of what could be a bulb but don't know for sure and quite a fleshy stem"

I am still scratching my head - it looks familiar but I am unable to put a name to it. I will be getting the reference books out but maybe some kind and knowledgeable person might be able to shed light on its identity.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Garden Bloggers Muse Day - July

''Silver''

"Slowly silently now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream. "


~ Walter De La Mere 1873 - 1956

This poem has a special place in my heart. I was one of those children who had the experience of being taught by their father. This took place in the last year of primary school and we both have mixed feelings about it. I think that it was hard on both of us. However it hard its advantages too as I certainly had an excellent teacher with a love of poetry. I remember Dad saying that if you learn a poem at the age of eleven you will know it for life. Wise words !

Other July muses can be enjoyed over at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago hosted by Carolyn Gail.