Saturday, 20 May 2017

Vert, near King's Cross

So, on my way to a meeting, I found this. It's here. You can actually have quite a good look at in on Google Maps (that's what the link is) but I've put some of the planting detail below.

Vert, King's Cross

Vert, King's Cross Vert, King's Cross

Definitely an apple tree in one of those battleship-grey dazzle angular wall planters. It's a green wall alright - and just as dependent on its irigation system, which was visible in the lower planters - but not a regular, commercial-district type green wall. This had more of an ostentatious municipal feel, the glory of dramatic urban planning sinking deep into the finer details.

Vert, King's Cross Vert, King's Cross

The artist, Neil Ayling,  does not seem to put plants in his sculptures very much. Mostly they are angular, gravity-defying collapses of cityscapes into eyebending flying structures; concrete and graffiti folded up like origami.

There must be other sculptures out there which would also make excellent planters.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

tiny hipster gardens

Gardens on a grand scale seem to be featuring quite a bit on my regular gardening programme at the moment. The glorious widescale plans of the rich and retired are of course the mainstay of any gardening programme's subject matter (and audience, for that matter) but right now I'm craving small gardening stories, fitted into the cracks of busy lives.


This lady's apartment is quite fun. I love the humidifier. Can you imagine that in a gloomy UK house? Black. Mould. Everywhere.



This gentleman's tiny rooftop patch is full of random crap he's dragged back from charity shops, which is obviously brilliant. His inspiration for creating a dreamy urban green space? The relentless stares of his neighbours.



This one screams new tech money. The automatic garden door, the clever decrypting of the internal space, the ladder to the secret succulent clubhouse. Also, I suspect the presence of a smugly giggling irrigation geek, though I'm not sure we get to meet them in the clip.


Finally, a balcony wrapped firmly in the relentless grey pollutant dust of reality. Solar powered fairy lights, tiny windowboxes, and the distinct impression of having been "given a lift" by a quick trip to the supermarket for a budget pack of mixed herbs and petunias. The comments section is full of discussion of the gentleman's sexuality, which I initially thought was missing the point, but a peek into somebody else's back garden is always a little intrusive, a little bit about seeing a bit of somebody's unguarded life.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

a bunch of super-posh fancypants frilly lilacs

In my local museum, there is a sort of posh top floor, full of fancy paintings by fancy painters. They're all very nice, and here and there are very nice bits of pottery and suchlike, fancy sculptures and dishes and spoons and tea-pots. It rotates a bit in content, and last time I was up there, I found this odd picture of a very nice doily-clad lady casting a contemptuous glance back at her host's collection of tropicana while delicately holding aloft that most British of flowers, a bunch of lilacs. Or maybe she's averting the streaming eyes of hayfever. It's hard to tell. The pose is awkward, the expression unreadable. Among the usually plodding and foregrounded symbolism of the pre-raphaelites, this one stands out like an awkward snapshot. You can almost hear the photographer directing her -- drop your head a bit more, and the lilacs, a touch higher!

a bunch of lilacs

a bunch of lilacs     grumpy birds
arts and crafts lady     against the window

The painting is by Tissot, and so is the winter garden, although he may have exaggerated the size of the conservatory slightly. He was a fabulously fashionable painter at the time, and served iced champagne to his guests in his wildly renovated fashionable London house while scenesters flirted in the fancy garden. Some of his grander knick-knacks are visible behind our lady, sadly rendered nameless by the passage of the years, and I've included some of the more interesting ones on view in the gallery, along with the caption from the painting.

Her awkward pose and pastel colours make her look like a Dresden figurine caught in the jaws of the tropical house, static, chaste and ultimately unmeltable by the urgency of the tropical heat behind her. Or is she? Like many of Tissot's paintings, there is a suggestion of lewdness, here in the Lot's wife pose, the reflective floor and the expressions of the hands and face, almost as if at any moment frills and lilacs both might drop to the floor, and Eden reclaim the fine lady.