Sunday 26 May 2024

RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2024

It was the RHS Chelsea Flower Show last week.  I have never been in person (I think the numbers of people would not be conducive to an enjoyable visit), but I watch all the TV coverage avidly.  There are always some gardens, or elements in gardens that appeal to me and all the photos are from the RHS Chelsea website.
I liked the Bridgerton garden designed by Holly Johnston and inspired by a character in the TV series Bridgerton ( I haven't watched the series).  This garden can be seen in the first four photos here.  The moongate was very beautiful and draws the eye through.
I wasn't keen on the tiered fountain, but loved the stone seats set into the wall.  
Lots of  pastel flowers surrounded the sunken seating area.  I would be very happy if this was outside my back door (with a different water feature, of course!)
The 'Terrence Higgins Trust Bridge to 2030 Garden' designed by Matthew Childs was inspired by the slate quarries in Wales and also by the scary Aids information film with a huge tombstone crashing down, which was seen in the 1980s.  The 'tombstone' had become a bridge here, with the hope of no more Aids cases by 2030.  There was some beautiful naturalistic planting here too. 
The Muscular Dystrophy UK – Forest Bathing Garden designed by Ula Maria won best in show.  I like this woodland style planting.
The National Garden Scheme Garden, designed by Tom Stuart Smith was probably my favourite garden overall.  I love the NGS and have been to many gardens opening under this scheme and raising money for charity.
Again, there was a woodland feel with calming shades of green and white.
There was an extremely well appointed building (too posh to be called a shed) with a cooker, gardening tools and a table inside.  I like the water trough outside too.
The Octavia Hill Garden by Blue Diamond with the National Trust, designed by Anne Marie Powell won the Children's Choice award as well as the People's Choice award (voted for by visitors to the show as well as tv viewers).  I particularly like those carved benches.
The planting was more vibrant in this garden too.
The St James’s Piccadilly: Imagine the World to be Different garden was inspired by the ruins of St James' church, Piccadilly, built by Sir Christopher Wren.  Elements of this garden will be going to St Pancras, Euston Road.  Other parts of the garden will be going to the real St James' Church.  I like the peacefulness of this courtyard setting.

I particularly liked the S shaped stone bench and the naturalistic planting in the Burma Skincare Initiative Spirit of Partnership Garden designed by Helen Olney.
So, what do my choices say about what I like?  Naturalistic planting, woodland planting, seats, and formal areas with exuberant planting seem to be the themes here. Ultimately, I always ask myself "would I like this outside my back door?" 

Sunday 19 May 2024

The Three As (and some other options)

It is the time of year for enjoying the three As in the garden - Alliums, Aquilegias and Astrantias.  Above and below are some of my alliums.  Those in the sunny border don't seem to be very happy and are dwindling.  It is a raised bed and perhaps gets too dry in the summer.
I have planted some in the big rose pots and they seem to be doing better.
I do like the globe flowerheads.  
Aquilegias are another plant which don't seem to like the sunny border.   They have seeded themselves into other pots this year.
I should have an astrantia photo here, but the one I took is too blurry so I will have to try again. In the meantime, there is a chive flower which is very pretty (and edible!)
If you don't like the chive flower, how about a geranium phaeum?  These are happier in a bit of shade so they are in the north facing border.
My third option is an apricot foxglove, grown from seed last year and with drops of rain on the flower. It is nearly time to sow next year's plants.  These are in a pot and have done better than the ones I planted in the border, which seem to have disappeared.  

It is RHS Chelsea Flower show this week and I shall be watching the TV coverage, as I do every year.  It is always fascinating to see how the gardens are created and where they will be going after the show. 

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Inchie Challenge 2024

I have joined in with the Inchie challenge again this year, run by Amy Maricle from Mindful Art Studio. The idea is to illustrate a prompt on a small piece of paper/card every day for twelve days.  It is also to encourage creating every day, even if it is on a small scale.

There are Leaves, Patience, Love and Mountain.
Then there are Bristle, Circles, Stone and Inky.
Finally you can see Shell, Buds, Expansive and Landscape.
My favourites are 'Patience' because although the lines take a long time to draw, there is something very relaxing about drawing them and 'Expansive' (for the same reason, as well as this being my own pattern, rather than one of Amy's). 
I enjoyed making these little pieces and it is the size of them as well as minimum supplies (black waterproof pen (I use either a Uniball Eye Black pen in Fine or Micro, or my Lamy Safari Fountain pen with De Atramentis waterproof ink), watercolour and watercolour card 300 gsm) which makes this a lovely challenge to do. 
Last year's work can be seen here, should you be interested.

Monday 6 May 2024

Wanderlust 2024 - Weeks nine to sixteen - Texture

The art journaling course is going along well so far this year and here are the pages from the theme 'Texture'.  Above we were drawing a portrait using watersoluble graphite and adding gesso mixed with plaster of paris as well as texture paste.  My portraits are improving but I do find them tricky.
I loved week ten where we used a book as inspiration - mine was 'The Secret Garden' (with a bit of Alice in Wonderland thrown in - both with gardens, and finding keys to unlock doors.) 
Week eleven was adding texture to an image by sticking tissue paper over it.  I didn't really find this lesson very inspiring, but like the bird image I chose to use.
For week twelve were encouraged to think back to our childhood and my thoughts went back to a lovely house we used to live in which had stone walls and a climbing rose 'Albertine' in the back garden.  I then thought of the blue and white flowery material which my granny used to make me a puffed sleeve dress.  I loved that dress! Under the rose is a pocket which houses...
...some tags - here is Granny with me in the dress.  The image to the right is from the pattern she used, which I found in a bag of patterns.  The plan at the back is how I got to the different elements I used in the final page.
I enjoyed week thirteen as it involved inks and texture paste and a stamp for the focal image. This woman stamp is a Jane Davenport one and I love the movement in the image.  
Week fourteen was really fun.  We had to make pen nibs out of drink cans and stick them to a wooden skewer. These pens were then used to write and make marks.  I thoroughly enjoyed making all the papers which were used in the big circle.
Being grounded was the theme for the next week, so I chose a photo of the lilac and magnolia trees in the garden.  We were shown how to mix used dried tea leaves and sand into white gesso or clear gesso to create a textured paint.  
Week sixteen was the 'Artful Musings' week and it was about using an art journal to process emotions, in this case, grief.  The writing is quoted from the end of this blessing, which struck a chord with me and I knew I needed to include it:

"May the sun bring you energy every day, bringing light into the darkness of your soul.
May the moon softly restore you by light bathing you in the glow of restful sleep and peaceful dreams.
May the rain wash away your worries and cleanse the hurt that sits in your heart.
May the breeze blow new strength into your being, and may you believe in the courage of yourself.
May you walk gently through the world, keeping your loved one with you always, knowing that you are never parted in the beating of your heart."
                                                               Apache grief blessing, by unknown author(s)

On to our next theme, which is writing.

Tuesday 30 April 2024

This morning

We have had two sunny days in a row, which is something of an event so far this year.  Making the most of it, I went out in the garden this morning.  Above is the unknown fringed tulip which I didn't plant but which keeps coming back and is very welcome.
I do like a fern and my ferns haven't had much of a focus on my blog.  I have just removed the old leaves, so you can see the new growth so much better.  Above is a Hart's Tongue fern, a British native plant. Such a zingy green!
I have an English bluebell unfurling its flowers.
My Rhodanthemum Casablanca has been repotted and is still flowering - it started to flower in December.
The Japanese Shield Fern has new leaves in this lovely red colour.
Finally, here is my other fern, (I can't remember the name of it) in the border by the hydrangea.  It's a beauty!

Saturday 20 April 2024

Count Arthur Strong - 'And It's Goodnight From Him!'

After a busy day at work, I was looking forward to seeing Count Arthur Strong.  We are big fans of his brand of silliness and it is a great antidote to the depressing elements of the world we are in.  We all need to laugh and Count Arthur enabled us to do just that. He is a bit of a 'marmite' character which people either love or hate, but he has had TV series as well as radio series so there is a lot to enjoy if it's your thing.
There is a good review of the show here which gives a flavour of what to expect. I was crying with laughter quite a lot.  Steve Delaney is a master of his art and this was a real tour de force.  One of my favourite bits was Count Arthur mangling 'back behind the butcher's block' in his own inimitable way.

If you like him, the dates and venues are above.  If you don't know what I am talking about, here's a taste of his comedy (talking to a life insurance salesman) on Youtube and here is one of the fan favourites from one of the TV series (Flying Lesson).

Tuesday 16 April 2024

Plants in mid April

While it is tulip time, there are other plants flowering now and bringing colour to the garden.  Above is Clematis Blue Dancer, which has long elegant flowers.
This clematis is Frankie, which looks a deep purple here but is lighter in real life.
Of course there have been tulips and on sunny days, they have opened up fully. Above is Ballerina.
Here are Brown Sugar (and Ballerina in the bottom left.)
Ballerina has such an elegant shape and a fresh lemony scent.
Brown Sugar in a pot, giving a lovely splash of orange.
Apple blossom from my little patio James Grieve.  I am not sure how well this will do this year (or at all) because when we repotted it earlier in the year, it was infested with vine weevil grubs and had lost a lot of its roots.  We shall see.
Erythronium Pagoda which has grown into a good clump now.  
Tulip Ronaldo in a pot, just starting to flower.
Here it is in full flower and looking lovely.
Self sown primulas under the patio table.  There is also a self sown hardy geranium leaf too.
Finally, Magnolia Susan and the lilac tree have been flowering too and I always enjoy seeing them together. The scent on a sunny day is lovely.