Friday, 24 February 2017

the cold lights of february

The Lighthouse balcony, seen from the river. It's the end of an era again at work, but the Thames remains; the leaves are coming throuh on the weeping willows, and from the blacony outside the lighthouse, the sound of laughter on a night with a breath o sprin in the air.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

gardens glimpsed from public transit

One of my very favourite ways to view gardens is from public transport as it is slowing down. The backs of gardens on the way into stations, the top-deck glimpses from double decker buses pulling into stops, the view of the suburbs from a sharply banking plane. Here I am looking down from London's cable car, a famous white elephant infrastructure project that was busy and lively when we took it across the Thames, at regenerating docklands, park-ups giving way to municipal planting and tourist destinations.

the docks

Photographs are often very unsuccessful in such situations. There is an extraordinary looking garden attached to Providence Tower (foreground, in front of Ontario Tower) which is just visible as the DLR pulls into the station; but the foreground station furniture your eyes gloss out obscures it firmly from camera view.

At Blackwall station

The DLR barely stops at stations; there was no chance of a second shot. But if you want to see what I mean, Ballymore's New Providence Wharf website gives some pretty good views of the all season and winter gardens in question. Or you could watch the video, for the right High Rise ambience:

Friday, 17 February 2017

miracles and magic in the garden (moncler)

At the moment, in my garden, the moss and mulch is doing most of the work. At this grey time of year, where all work undertaken is bundled up in layers and cringing from the cold, I came across this image in a months-old magazine of a pale woman wearing warm clothes, but not enough clothes to keep her warm, holding a peach tree aloft above a cold Northern lake. She believes in the summer. From the depths of February, do you?

The other image from the same campaign cages the snow and the far northern trees in the heart of the man, in chilly homage to Magritte's therapist. The gardener inside, making his own ice on the sofa while outside and inside the snow falls.

I am not averse to moss in the garden. I grew up in a wet enough area that the soft spring of moss underfoot is comforting. This dozing pixie from last year's campaign has landed in the dream of perfect moss; green, luxuriant, like exotic upholstery.

The company in question (warning: home page contains a short Esheresque auto-playing video loop) does do rather fabulous fashion shows, as well as the Leibovitz-unleashed fashion shoots.

Here's next season's look: invisible in your own forest.

As everyone's garden will have its own palette, it should be possible to do a customised jacket in the style, given a little patience an old jacket and some mixable fabric paints. Post-production pixel smoothing not included.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

cabbage at the bullingdon

Q: Why is a moshpit like a mixed border?
A: Because everything's scrambling over each other, the young plants ane the most vigorous and the mature perennials provide structure and support.
A: Because if things have got a bit wild, you can lose a shoe.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

gardening is colossally dull; also cold

It's a dismal day today. Flecks of snow spattering down from a low, grey and somehow gritty sky, the exact colour of cat-litter. I've been out, for a walk, but not into the garden because at this time of year it's dark, depressing, soggy, muddy and miserable.

It's also a catalogue of problems:

  • The side neighbour's tree
  • The back neighbour's hedge
  • The dead geranium bushes
  • The plant pot that has become a plant pond
  • Rotting grapes on the vine
  • The unpruned vine
  • Leaves from the aforementioned tree, everywhere
  • Overgrown ivy
  • Sulking clematis
  • Tired passion vine
  • Filthy greenhouse
  • Etc.
Which is not to say that there are not (deep breath) winter jasmine, quince, hellebores, snowdrops and even Tim's confetti bush actually in flower right now, and any number of things sprouting, showing fresh leaves and generally having a go, but still, February, ugh.

In all honesty, I'd rather be curled up inside with the cats.

But before that, I need to take out the compost pail. A week or so ago, I was taking the compost pail out and somehow tangled my ring in the door handle, slipped on the outside doormat (now mostly moss, dead leaves and slime, oops, something else for the problems list) and landed on the little planter outside the backdoor, which mercifully broke my fall, but also broke. So the first step is a ginger scoot around the shattered plastic fragments of that. Then up the steps -- moss, and more slime. The soft fruits trees have been left out in the weather for the first winter ever, and I edge past them too, noting a few blackened branches and then the blackcurrant and cotoneaster I should have pruned last year, a plant prop whose plant is long since withered and fallen, and the greenhouse, which is green with algae, unwatered inside and covered with dead leaves outside.

And then the emptying of the pail.

The lid of the compost bin comes off fairly easily - no frost today - and inside it is teeming and steaming, worm city with a sprinkling of woodlice, slugs and centipedes. At least one thing is going right, and as soon as it's warm enough I'll put that on my garden.

Er, maybe. 

Thursday, 9 February 2017

plants in boxes, on shelves, over balconies, cascading, contraband, constrained

For those who grew up in the long grey shadow of the 80s, the Barbican represented something of a better way - brutalist concrete softened by the tumbling streamers of sympathetic vines, soft vegetative fringes gentling the hard edges of modernism and social housing regreened into genuine sociability.

The reality, of course is that the Barbican is, and has always been exclusive, expensive and precisely ordered; compulsory geraniums and by-lawed plantings and always the gates; gates within gates letting you into increasingly exclusive spaces, three storey flats, four storey town-houses, mews overlooking a (private) park. Even the harsh concrete is actually a carefully hand-finished surface, every square foot carefully textured to perfection by men with jackhammers. Only those not in the know look at the Barbican and see the depressing equity social housing.

I still love it though; its concrete garden remains one of the most enduring caricatures of distopia rendered utopian through the application of sympathetic greenery.

Foliage stealing the skyline moss garden
no functional purpose largest freestanding roof in Europe of its time
winter flower globe lights and palms
hanging gardens lush and exclusive
and what about the dolphins? floating pillars
corner tree
much planting intrusive bollards
mews entrance walkway plantings

Saturday, 4 February 2017

February in the Garden

February in the Garden February in the Garden February in the Garden February in the GardenFebruary in the Garden February in the Garden

Twilight in the garden; small glows mark where the flowers are starting to flicker through. The quince is in flower too, but so deep in shadow that the camera won't focus.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

the last of christmas

puddle star

The last of the Christmas decorations are gone now, and all the pavements have turned to water features in the January rain. It's a warm spring already; everything is sprouting.

It's way too early for that.