Archive for June, 2012
Posted by editor on Sunday, 24 June 2012
When heading out into the garden isn’t the best option (will this wind and rain ever stop?), or when I get those 3am awakenings when the mind just won’t still itself, I’ll often reach for one of my many gardening books.
Most are modern books, recently written and covering the endlessly diverse subjects of design, planting and what do when – New Gardening by Mathew Wilson, Dan Pearson’s Spirit, Garden Design Details by Arne Maynard, and anything by John Brookes and Noel Kingsbury spring to mind, though there are so many more. The musings of the incredible Christopher Lloyd and Beth Chatto inspire, amuse and inform quite uniquely no matter how many times I read them (Christopher Lloyd’s Cuttings is a particular favourite).
Recently though, I have been reading a few second-hand gardening books. I thought I’d tell you about three of them. Two were gifts and one I picked up second hand from Much Ado Books in Alfriston, but treasures can also be found when scouting around boot sales and charity shops.
One Lousy Free Packet of Seed by Lynne Truss (she of Eats Shoots and Leaves fame!), her debut novel published 1994. A tale of absurdity, farce and a particular Britishness. From the inside fly leaf: “Osborne Lonsdale, forty-eight, writes for Come Into the Garden. He contributes a weekly celebrity interview column called ‘Me and My Shed’. His small, intense friend Makepeace is a professional book reviewer and part-time pathological liar. Together they travel to Honiton, by the A303, in a Fiesta van, in bleak November. Osborne is unwittingly adored by Michelle, the frustrated chief sub-editor, who writes him kinky ‘readers’ letters’ after work for her own amusement. Lillian, the editor’s lazy secretary, who hates Michelle, mischievously sends them on. Tim, the deputy editor, knows nothing about anything, but worries anyway”…and so it goes on.
Better Gardening by Robin Lane Fox, published 1986, was a gift from a friend to whom I had to confess that I had never heard of him. Wikipedia notes that he is “an expert gardener, he is the gardening correspondent of the Financial Times and a noted opponent of garden gnomes” – so really I should have!
From the inside fly leaf – “In this memorable book, Robin Lane Fox draws on his wide experience to pick and discuss better plants, bulbs, trees and shrubs for beginners and experts alike. Wherever possible, their sources and cheap means of increase are listed. The result is not only an encouragement to try new plants or begin a garden-plan with confidence. It is filled with advice from an observant eye and is written with a style, humour, and sense of romance which have long delighted his weekly readers and place this book beside the best of English garden literature.”
A Little History of British Gardening by Jenny Uglow, published 2004, is an excellent read, rich with historical facts yet humble and humorous detail too: “Did the Romans have rakes? Did the monks get muddy? Did the potato seem really, really weird when it arrived on our shores?”
From the inside fly leaf – “This lively ‘potted’ history of gardening in Britain takes us on a garden tour from the thorn hedges around prehistoric settlements to the rage for decking and ornamental grasses today. It tracks down the ordinary folk who worked the earth – the apprentice boys and weeding women, the florists and nursery gardeners – as well as aristocrats and grand designers and famous plant-hunters. Coloured by Jenny Uglow’s own love for plants, and brought to life in the many vivid illustrations, it deals not only with flowery meads, grottoes and vistas, landscapes and ha-has, parks and allotments, but tells you, for example, how the Tudors made their curious knots; how housewives used herbs to stop freckles; how the suburbs dug for victory in World war II.”
So if the great outdoors doesn’t offer warm distraction, maybe turn up the heating and curl up with a good second-hand book as though it were December rather than June!
Posted by editor on Tuesday, 19 June 2012
On a recent visit to Scotland I was taken to Jupiter Artland, a contemporary sculpture garden in the grounds of Bonnington House outside Edinburgh. It was absolutely wonderful, atmospheric and very special. There are works by many leading artists, Andy Goldsworthy, Anthony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Marc Quinn among others, all of whom have been commissioned to create a piece within a particular setting, the topographical location being a crucial feature.
The very beautiful landforms by Charles Jencks welcomes one and they are stunning. They celebrate the life of the cell, the basic unit of life, and the way in which one cell divides into two in stages. From above, the layout with the mounds, the connecting causeway, and the central rill, plus the four lakes on the outside, symbolise the cells early division into membranes and nuclei.
You are given an illustrated map and your journey continues through a very lovely wood, with ferns unfurling and magnificent trees, you can choose which direction to take, on the hoggin paths, to discover such an amazing diversity of pieces, which please, stimulate, frighten and challenge.
Inside the gallery we saw the remains of a piece of ephemeral art by Anya Gallaccio, Red on Green, where 10,000 red roses had been laid and are now decaying. ”Fragrant, soft and velvety the voluptuousness of the roses en masse evokes romance and decadence that is slowly allowed to blacken like scabs and die”. On my visit the roses still gave off a faint musky fragrance, but were papery-looking and faded, and evoked a sense of sadness.
The atmosphere of Jupiter Artland is magical. As well as the fabulous walk through the pieces of art, delicious food is served from a 1950′s retro-American catering caravan – and the shop is interesting too!
Robert and Nicky Wilson, who own Bonnington House and have set up Jupiter Artland, are part of the Wilson family that own Bach Flower Remedies. www.jupiterartland.org
It is certainly well worth a visit, as is the city of Edinburgh. My sister lives in Stockbridge in Edinburgh as is offering Bed & Breakfast during the Edinburgh festival. If interested, contact Deborah at firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by editor on Friday, 8 June 2012
I doubt if there is anything about roses that Simon White does not know. He has worked for multi-medal-winning Peter Beales Roses in Norfolk for 30 years, but said that when he started there he didn’t care much for roses, but was just looking for a job! This was Simon’s second workshop for The Garden House, and he is a storehouse of rose-related facts and insider stories.
We began with a comprehensive A-Z of Roses, accompanied by lots of pictures, which gave us a good grounding in the many different types of rose. Already we were noting down the names of old favourites, must-have unfamiliar ones, and desirable new introductions. Simon’s message was that roses are a very versatile plant: there is something for every situation. Particularly useful was the knowledge that shrub roses grown against a wall or fence will climb up while still flowering beautifully from the base.
From where I was sitting, the fragrance from a bucket of cut roses standing just outside kept wafting in. They had featured on the Peter Beales stand at Chelsea the previous week and were still in amazing condition. We passed them round to look at their colours and forms and tried to describe each one’s distinctive scent. Then we were given a demonstration of the professional method of propagating roses from tiny buds on to rootstock. We were also shown how to plant a rose to get it off to a good start, especially in our local chalky soil or to avoid rose replant disease – apparently the secret is all in a cardboard box.
The very full and informative day ended with a walk around Bridgette’s garden, rose-spotting. Although I’m very familiar with the garden from working in it each week with the Friday group I was still surprised by the number and variety of roses growing there – although Simon was reluctant to spend time on any that had been bred by their famous rival rose-growers (whose initials are D.A.)
Posted by editor on Saturday, 2 June 2012
If you nip down to your local garden centre, it may not be too late to rustle up some red, white and blue bedding plants and even perennials to plant up a couple of pots or window-boxes (ideal for your front garden if your street is planning a party!).
The RHS website has some brilliant ideas – the following info is from their website:
Patriotic displays of red, white and blue-flowered plants are traditional favourites for British celebrations. Below is a selection of plants recommended by the RHS and the Horticultural Trades Association, who have been working together to promote the brightest and best to garden centres and nurseries for the summer celebrations.
|Begonia Semperflorens Cultorum Group||
|Begonia × tuberhybrida||
|Viola × wittrockiana (pansy)||x||x||x|
*’blue’ plants include shades of mauve and purple, as there are few true-blue flowers.
Images are from:
One Good Thing by Jillee – who also suggests painting your pots in red, white and blue!
Bill Flowers - love those ‘over railing’ pots!