Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Other people's gardens: the back quad at Queen's

Reviewing a student show, I ended up in a back quad of Queen's College. It was supposed to be a garden show, but skies and recalcitrant technology conspired to chase us into a lecture theatre. The lecture theatre faced a glass wall and beyond the wall - a tiny, rather distracting corridoor garden. I nipped out in the interval to photograph a seductive Clematis among the Wisteria and Painted Ferns. It's not a variety I'm familiar with; huge,blushing purple, with decadently drooping petals.

Corridoor garden Extraordinary clematis

Queen's actual Fellow's Garden is closed for some archaeology at the moment (and when I say closed, I mean it's now a series of very interesting trenches), so the back quad has been declared Fellow's Garden for now.No-one's supposed to walk on the perfectly manicured grass (I guess no-one told the ducks!) but the long bed has smart little weeding paths, so I was able to get a close look at the swelling perennials in their fancy wire cages.

cheeky ducks fancy plant stands
The planting was astonishingly tidy, zero tolerance of weeds and anything faded or flopped removed to a place of safety. There were some questionable statues tucked into corners. The creepy, semi-decayed putto was in pride of place in a niche outside the bar but that eagle was literally behind a large, solid, screening bush. I had to stand on a wall to get the shot!

artistic treasures of Queen's College #1 artistic treasures of Queen's college #2
In the gathering dusk, the occasional early summer spectacle glowed out of the borders like a jewel. The fluffy heads of Cirsium, and this stunning long-spurred sunset-coloured aquilegia. It's still mostly about the greens, though; hellebores and ferns unfurling, the last few pale spring bulb flowers floating above them like morning stars.

incredible aquilegia narcissus and fern
The odd curiosity, too, like this old lead pipe; perhaps the remnants of an old irrigation system. Against the wall, plants already looking a bit dry. The rain shadows of the tall buildings can be fierce.

antique spout fancy plant stand

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