In some ways, my garden is rather like a patchwork quilt with various pieces all sewed together in a kind of hotch-potch order. One area that needs work is the weed-covered space that slopes down to the Wendy House. I am not sure what to do with it…more alpines, a rockery or shrubs? Maybe even a combination of all of those.
The concept of patchwork seems to sum up collage book The Practical Senior Teacher my brother, Philip, and I had published recently by avant-garde Knives, Forks and Spoons Press. To find out more about the book visit this previous post.
It’s been months since I have written on this blog. Today, I felt the urge to jot down a post, perhaps to upload later. The garden is looking somewhat bleak, just a few daffodils poking through soil. The sky is grey; this isn’t one of those bright, crisp days. There is nothing tempting me outside at the moment. Simply making plans, sitting by the warmth of the stove seems a much better option.
A moment in time…that’s all we have. A garden is such a close reflection of life. For a while, mine seemed to be holding back on autumn. Now suddenly, it’s here with a flurry of orange leaves scattered on the lawn, our last apples about to fall and the quince waiting to be picked. The days have changed so fast from azure sunny skies right up until the beginning of October; but now the mornings are frosty and just a few flowers dot the borders. Summer is a memory and there’s talk that next week might bring snow.
September has kicked in but, despite the noticeable nip to the air early in the morning, days are still sun-filled. I have been finishing off jobs: painting the patio walls and, tomorrow, I hope to stain the wood surround. The cottage garden border continues to retain colour; I will post pictures later.
For good reason I associate Begonias with the 1970’s gardens of my childhood. Maybe, people grew them then because they seemed exotic. I suspect that a lot of my contemporaries have the idea that begonias are one of those frumpy plants associated with being middle age. I have no concerns about whether or not my garden is fashionable. I guess it reflects my quirky taste; I simply embrace whatever appeals to me. So, Begonias sit at the front of my cottage garden border; plump, pretty flowers with petals in pastel pink and buttery yellow. What isn’t to like?
The beautiful blue flowers, Roxanne Geraniums, are so prolific; they have certainly made themselves at home in the cottage border. As a child I loved the colour blue and had a bedroom themed with blue and brown flowered wallpaper (the epitome of good taste back then..really).
Years ago I recorded the song The Colour Of You with my brothers Phil and Ian. The lyrics to the chorus, ‘Blue, blue, blue is the colour of you’, were partly in reference to my own fondness for the colour. But it is also a nod to New Order and their song Blue Monday; bass player Peter Hook took a friendly interest in our band and, arranged for my brothers and I to record in his studio Suite Sixteen with engineer Rex Sargent. This was one of the songs we chose to do.
Under the name of The Gingerbread Tree we have amassed a large collection of songs and are now putting them out on our YouTube Channel. The Colour Of You is one of our catchiest I think and, appropriately, given where we recorded it, a bit of a homage to New Order.
I’ve recently been reading a book called Frida Kahlo’s Garden. It’s about the artist’s life and the house and garden Casa Azul in Mexico City that belonged to her and muralist Diego Rivera. Kahlo used botanical images in her work and the garden was another form of self expression. Now a museum, the garden includes unusual desert and tropical plants alongside lava stone paths, sculptures and a pyramid.
Like so many books, I seem to get half way through and then stop for one reason or another…Anyway, I’ve loved picking through the glossy pages and soaking up ideas for my own space. I’d love to visit Kahlo’s garden; I don’t expect a book can really do it justice. My brother, Phil, and I have our own book due out soon The Practical Senior Teacher (published by KFS press) which features some of our collages. Interesting how so many creatives find that gardening, like drawing, painting or collaging, can be another outlet.
Alpines, or succulents, must be some of the easiest and, most rewarding, plants to grow. In the patio area I have devoted one large bed and one small completely to alpines.
The popularity of alpine plants stemmed from the mountaineering Victorian middle classes. When in the Alps, enthusiasts began to bring these small hardy plants back to the UK.
I love the quirky appearance of some of my alpines. Though not always traditionally pretty they have an interesting alien-like quality, particularly when they sprout flowers. I can imagine plants like these on Mars or, some far off planet.
I wrote a blog called Gutsy Geraniums some time ago and was surprised by how often the particular article was viewed. This year I’ve planted more geraniums around the beds near to the house. They are are a beautiful, vibrant red. In the cottage garden border Roxanne geraniums form a clump of delicate violet flowers.
We hope to acquire tomatoes at some point over the Summer. My father-in-law visited us recently with a plant for each of the three children. He instructed them to water their plant daily (hasn’t quite happened) and see whose produces the most fruit. We wait in great anticipation…