Posts Tagged ‘flowers’

A walk around the garden (part 2)

In June, we walked around the garden and had a little look at everything, in anticipation of the changes that would come with summer. And they did. So last night, I thought, tomorrow I’ll do another walk around the garden, that’ll be nice.

And then it rained. And I walked anyway. So let’s go!

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Let’s start next to the back door. This is the cherry tree and that little stick above the leaf, the stick with nothing on the end of it. That held our entire cherry harvest for the year. Yep. One cherry. We have one little cherry. And it was stolen. I imagine it was a bird. Apparently they love cherries. It was unfair of them to take our only cherry though.

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Plums! Woop woop! These are doing pretty well at the moment. Its taken them a little while to get going but they’re looking good now.

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Tomatoes. I love when there are tomatoes at different stages of ripeness on the same bunch.

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This lavender plant has gone absolutely mad! During the day it is covered in bees and that makes me very happy.

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In between all the lavender plants is the lone rosemary bush. I love popping outside while cooking to grab some rosemary.

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More lavender.

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That beautiful mystery tree with the white flowers….? Yeh, it didn’t last long.

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The rain hasn’t done the flower corner any good 😦

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New petunias by the shed.

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More petunias!

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The new rhubarb plant! I got it from Ham House.

Borage, borage, borage

In light of my new foraging fun (I now forage at least once a week to make soup for Danda and I), I have got a book called Food For Free by Richard Mabey and am looking into things like edible flowers. I saw some beautiful photographs of borage and realised I’d seen it around quite a bit but not realised what I was looking at nor that I could eat it. And it looks beautiful on a plate of light summery fun, a salmon fillet perhaps and some greens. With some beautiful borage on the top.

In honour of this new discovery, I have composed some poetry. I would describe my style as philosophical and thought-provoking.

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Borage, borage, borage

There’s a garden down the road with some borage,
I wish I had some borage,
I’d eat that borage with my porridge,
I’d have a breakfast of borage porridge.

I’d like to forage that borage,
I wish I had borage like that borage,
I think it’s my favourite borage,
And boy, do I like to forage!?
I’d like to forage that borage.
For my porridge.

Forage, borage, porridge.

Palm House (Part 2)

Good morning all. It’s Wednesday and time for my regular guest blogger, Rambler5319, to follow up last week’s popular post about Liverpool’s Palm House….

 

Now hopefully you remember last week I’d intended to do the flower beds and then this week the inside of the Palm House but there just wasn’t space to fit everything in. So I’m starting with the outside again and here’s a view of the path I walked along to get to the Palm House. There is a wide tarmac roadway but I fancied the woodland walk:

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And looking back toward the bridge

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Some of the greenery and flower beds around the outside.

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These garden areas and flower beds were immaculate. You can tell a lot of time is spent on the upkeep of this whole area.

Ok here’s the entrance.

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So let’s go inside

How about these for big leaves on a plant?

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Some big plants in square wooden pots.

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This pic shows the spiral staircase leading up the roof area where there is a metal walkway running round the base of the dome on the top. (Visitors are not allowed up but there’s probably a great view from up there!)

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Next is a statue called Mother & Child in the guide leaflet

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It looks very similar to a statue (from 1857) by Benjamin Spence called The Angel’s Whisper. If you look at this pic on Flickr the only difference appears to be the wings which aren’t there (folded down?) on the Palm House one.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/37303706@N08/3608478457/in/photolist-6uSoVP-5skebV-8MKxJs-6UkzcY-4HEWhJ-FxB9B-6a7Ngo-tEmt1-6UgxdB-8jqyfx-fn3nM-ct3ZWS-6RvkfB-29bKn1-65biXj-5DF6Jx-dTqUvR-doemN9-7GpFe2-3iFpJw-7V9CG4-89scv3-ab6ke2-8MDRMK-aUgvdZ-4qGxac-924ZWG-2JW3PZ-Htnpg-KvczK-boELsG-g5HK3-dCUy9v-8rAByJ-agfvj2-dAZzdV-856jEq-7PRqBQ-a8RfAX-azQZh5-5oy1KQ-bt5WA9-5eHhXB-9Rzwyv-aWesbn-dBGHWk-caFiNA-5FYKcg-9p7XXL-4oiiWm-CMrgW

Now here’s an interesting thing –look at the statue in the pic below. Gender? Don’t know about you but I guessed female.

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Now look at this:

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The inscription on the front of the plinth/base (written by Robert Burns) reads as follows:

“The golden Hours on angel wings

Flew o’er me and my dearie

For clear to me as light and life

Was my sweet Highland Mary.”

 

Highland Mary (Mary Campbell) was betrothed to Robert Burns. While waiting for him to emigrate to Jamaica she caught typhus and died.

 

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Next look at this inscription on the side of the same base. It reads: “Robert Burns, born at Alloway 1759, died at Dumfries 1796.” Those facts may be true but that’s definitely not Robert Burns standing on the plinth. Clearly it’s Highland Mary. Therefore you know what I think – I think there’s a statue of Robert Burns somewhere with the name Highland Mary underneath it! Someone’s got them mixed up – oops!

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As I’m not that good with plants and stuff I thought I’d use the “audio post” to help me out. It’s a thing that looks like a telephone and has push buttons for the different subjects. The six buttons are:

1. Welcome 2. Our Plants 3. People’s Palm House 4. The Story of the Palm House 5. Mini Plant Trail 6. Descriptive Commentary. What to press first? Naturally I went for no.1 Welcome – result, nothing, silence. I then pressed each of the other 5 buttons with the same result – silence. Hmmm. Just as I was wondering why no sound was coming down the line I saw this:

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How about that? The thing was out of order. However it didn’t just not work, it also thanked me for my patience whilst they were waiting for it to be repaired. Well that’s good – how did they know I was being patient? I was annoyed. Instead of telling visitors to “note … that it was out of order” why didn’t they just put an apology there. Something along the lines of “We’re sorry this audio post is not working and we hope to get it repaired as soon as possible”. Their sign is just a way of NOT saying sorry. Not impressed with that bit.

However I have to say that over all I was really impressed with the Palm House. To think this structure is in a public park in Liverpool is fantastic. Definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in Liverpool. 

Palm House (Part 1)

It’s Wednesday and time for my guest blogger, Rambler5319, to take over again. Enjoy!

 

Not just any palm house – the one in Sefton Park in Liverpool.

The park’s history goes back to 1867 when the council bought the land from a local earl. They paid £250,000 which in today’s money would be of the order of £40 million (some calculators go much higher than even this!) Imagine any council even thinking of spending that amount of money on a park today. Actually it wasn’t much different then as there were protests about it being a waste of money. Time, though, has certainly proved its benefit to the people of the city and further afield.

A big competition (international) was held and the winner was a French landscape artist named Édouard André and Liverpool architect Lewis Hornblower. (Hornblower had designed the Grand Entrance to Birkenhead Park – designed by Joseph Paxton – the first municipal park in Britain and he’d also worked on Princes Park just across the road from Sefton Park.) It was opened in 1872 by 22 year old Prince Arthur (3rd son of Queen Victoria).

About 24 years later, the city council received a donation of £10,000, from a rich local man, Henry Yates Thompson, to build the Palm House. It opened in 1896. It’s an octagonal shape and built on a base of red granite which they brought down from the Isle of Mull. At each of the corners there is a statue of a famous person chosen by Thompson. Naturally he picked mostly botanists and explorers. We’ll do a tour round the outside this week and go inside next week.

Let’s start with a view looking at the front entrance to the Palm House.

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The statistics are amazing: it’s 25m high and there are 3,710 individually-cut panes of glass. It was painted in camouflage paint in 1939 to prevent the glass reflecting moonlight which would help enemy bombers locate areas of the city.

The structure fell into disrepair during the 1980s and following a big campaign and raising funds and grants it was re-opened in 2001. Just think about this – in order to refurbish the place they had to remove all the plants and then dismantle the whole structure (made of cast iron) so it could be sand blasted. The firm that did this part had to number every single piece of metal so it could be put back in the right place. Talk about jigsaws, this must have been one tough job. (I certainly wouldn’t have fancied it!)

We’ll go clockwise round the building looking at the guys who are commemorated in bronze and marble and see some of the beautiful gardens and flowers. I wonder how many of these you know?

1. André le Notre (1613-1700)

A landscape artist who designed the gardens at Versailles for Louis XIV. Also designed St James’ Park in London

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As you can see he’s in marble. Now I’m not a sculptor but check out the scroll he’s holding. I reckon that must be quite difficult to do.

2. Captain Cook (1728-79)

Famous as an explorer, navigator & cartographer and for his voyages of discovery particularly Australia and New Zealand. He was a captain in the Royal Navy. On his 3rd Pacific voyage he was killed when fighting with Hawaiians. The sad thing is that he had actually left the islands but a mast on his ship (Resolution) broke and he had to return to make repairs and it was during this time that the quarrels started which ended in his death.

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Check out the inscription on the base of his statue in pic below: “Constantly at sea from his youth he passed through all the stations belonging to a seaman from an apprentice boy in the coal trade to a post of captain in the British Navy”. In other words he started right at the bottom and worked his way right up.

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3. Gerardus Mercator (1512-1594)

The base says he was “the son of a poor shoemaker near Antwerp”. He was a Flemish astronomer & geographer. He invented the system of mapping which we still use today and by which your mobile phone knows exactly where you are: lines of latitude & longitude. We almost forget how revolutionary this was because we’ve never known living when it didn’t exist. The nearest I’ve ever come to it is when I lived abroad in a place that, for a while, didn’t have street names. People navigated by buildings or geographical features including the taxis. It moved on rapidly and has a totally modern system with street names and a GPS guided taxi system which was considered one of the most sophisticated in the world when introduced four years ago.

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4. Carl Linnaeus (1707-78)

He was a Swedish botanist, physician & zoologist. He is the founder of the system of categorisation of plants called taxonomy or type classification. Interestingly, it is said, his family conversed in Latin so his familiarity with the language when naming plants is perfectly understandable. Apparently the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau sent him the following message: “Tell him I know no greater man on earth”. That’s quite a compliment isn’t it? Goethe, the German author, wrote of Linnaeus: “With the exception of Shakespeare and Spinoza, I know no one among the no longer living who has influenced me more strongly!” Wow, talk about being respected by your peers. This guy was a giant.

However he also had a massive ego. In his own writing he made statements about himself that might surprise you. He wrote in an autobiography: “No one has been a greater Botanicus or Zoologist. No one has written more books, more correctly, more methodically, from his own experience. No one has more completely changed a whole science and initiated a new epoch. No one has become more of a household name throughout the world…”

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5. Charles Darwin (1809-82)

Probably the most famous of the names in this list. He wrote the book On The Origin Of Species in 1859 upsetting the church and Victorian society in general. Whatever your views on him the “Theory of Evolution” remains just that – a theory. Nuff said.

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6. Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)

Explorer and discoverer. Popular views credit him with the discovery of America but that should be qualified of course to the European discovery of America. Native Indians were already there and other nations can lay claim to having visited the place long before Columbus: Norse explorer Lief Erikson is believed to have been there around 1000AD & some believe the ancient Phoenicians could have visited. Obviously the name America doesn’t come from Columbus but from the feminine version of Italian explorer Vespucci’s first name Amerigo. Why if Columbus discovered the land was it not called Columbusia or Columbusland? How did that not happen?

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7. Henry the Navigator (1394-1460)

He was the 3rd child of King John I of Portugal and his wife Philippa of Lancaster (sister of Henry IV of England). In the complicated intermarriage of Royal families in Europe, Philippa of Lancaster was a daughter of John of Gaunt – the “Gaunt” comes from the anglicising of his birthplace (Ghent) in Belgium. He himself was a son of the 4th Plantagenet king, Edward III, and Philippa of Hainault. (Now there is a Hainault in north-east London but this one is a county in Belgium. Philippa brought Belgian weavers over to England to start up businesses in Norwich. In the late 16th century another wave of weavers arrived fleeing religious persecution in Holland & Belgium. Interestingly these guys brought their canaries with them and local people also began rearing them. And that historical event is how Norwich City’s football team got its present-day nickname – The Canaries. So now you know where it came from.)

Henry was born in Porto and from the age of 21 he began exploring the coast of Africa. He was intrigued by the Christian legend of Prester John who was allegedly a descendant of one of the Three Wise Men (who visited Jesus at his birth). Supposedly PJ was the king of a Christian nation which had been lost among the pagans of the Orient. His kingdom was said to contain the Fountain of Youth! It’s no surprise he didn’t find it or that people are still looking for it today, not in Africa, but in the consulting rooms of the plastic surgeon!

In 1420 Henry was appointed a governor of an organisation called the Order of Christ. This group had succeeded the Knights Templar which had been disbanded by Pope Clement V in 1312. He remained in charge till his death in 1460.

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8.John Parkinson (1567-1650)

In his time he was a famous herbalist and one of the first English botanists. After moving to London in 1581, at 14 yrs of age, he became an apprentice apothecary. He then rose up the career ladder eventually becoming apothecary to James I and later Royal Botanist to Charles I.

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Here’s one last statue. As you’ll probably recognise, it’s Peter Pan.

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And here’s the inscription on the base

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It says it was on the Royal yacht but I wonder just where on the Royal Yacht “Victoria & Albert” they put this. Looks a bit hefty to me but perhaps it was just the Peter Pan himself part at the top and no base. Interestingly Queen Victoria had 3 Royal Yachts named Victoria & Albert: the first launched in 1843, just 6 years after her accession; the second in 1855; the third launched in 1899 but was not ready for service until 1901 which, sadly, turned out to be 7 months after her death.

Anyway there we are, that’s all for this week. I’ll have to keep the flowers outside till next week when I’ll do the inside of the place itself.

A cup of tea in the garden

Take your morning coffee out into the garden (Simon Gear, Going Greener)

I’ve been sitting on this one for a little while now, feeling like this was the next direction to go in with my Living Usefully project but not quite getting round to it.

As I drink tea, not coffee, I have adjusted it slightly but last night I decided that today was the day when I would take my tea into the garden. The weather has been nice all weekend and there have been some recent additions to the garden which I thought would make standing out there a lovely thing to do.

We recently got a cherry tree, a plum tree, a strawberry plant, tomato plants, a tall fuschia plant and a load of pansies and lobelia so there is a lot to look at in the garden right now. I was looking forward to my tea-in-the-garden plan.

Then I woke up, fifteen minutes ago. The birds were singing, the air felt warm and I pulled back the covers.

Then I looked out of the window. It was pouring with rain and everything looked soaked.

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So I pulled the covers over me again, rolled over and went back to sleep.

Sorry, everyone. I’m sorry. I tried, sort of. I’ll try again tomorrow. Maybe.

Summer in England

Ah. Summer in England. What a glorious thing to behold. It took a while getting here but now it is fabulous.

The skies are blue. The grass is green. The flowers are emerging.
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Trees are a shock of loud greens instead of the twigs they have been during the seven month winter.
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Colourful clothing is being worn again. Pale sun-starved flesh is getting an airing with mass shorts and t-shirt wearing.
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Iced coffee is fashionable. The new ice cream shop in town finally has customers!
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Groups of trendy city-workers let their hair down and drink pink champagne from plastic cups on the green.
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My neighbours are feeling happy and generous and I get home to freshly baked biscuits on the doorstep.
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We greet each other cheerily across the street, welcome each other in for cups of tea or homemade lemonade. The children who annoyed us yesterday suddenly seem sweet and funny.
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We even go so far as to say it feels ‘too hot’! Older men play golf again, younger men get out their bikes again. The outdoor pools are open again and rammed with kids splashing about on sponge floats, almost hitting everyone else.
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We drink more tea as, according the age old adage, it actually cools you down….?!
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We eat dinner in the garden. We have barbecues.
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We unearth the lawn from the general leafy debris that has gathered for months while we looked sadly out from the back window, not daring to step out. We get excited.

We love England. It’s the most wonderful place in the world. There’s nowhere else we’d rather be (except when the winter kicks in and we all run away to take holidays elsewhere).

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Bugs on plants

It sounds like some kind of cocktail, doesn’t it? Or a euphemism for something very exciting. In actual fact, I am just going to show you some pictures of bugs on plants. But stick with me on this one. They’re good pictures, trust me. And they’ll get me geared up for doing more walks again when the weather warms up…

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See? I told you to stick with me and it would be fun. It was fun, right?

The annoying airport saga

Once upon a time, a good friend said to me, “Can you meet me from the airport when I get back from my holiday?” He had lots of bags and was unfamiliar with London so I said, sure I’d meet him, and I booked the morning off work.

I had met him from flights a few times before and he had always come into Terminal 2 at Heathrow. “So,” said I, “will you be at the same terminal as last time?”

“Yes,” said my friend.

And so the day arrives. I head to Heathrow airport. I’m early, so as I’m lingering around waiting, there’s a Marks and Spencer’s right next to me, with a massive flower display. I think it will be nice if I buy a bunch. People are always meeting other people off flights with bunches of flowers, aren’t they? So I buy them, squeeze back to my place at the railing and wait. And wait. And wait.

It’s been an hour since his landing time. Maybe he’s still getting baggage and going through passport control etc. I check the Arrivals board but can’t see anything which has arrived from Mexico, where he’s been.

An hour and a half. I try calling. His phone’s off.

Two hours. I’ve got to be at work at 4pm and by this time, it’s about 2pm. It takes an hour to get to work. Time is getting pretty tight. Still nothing from Mexico on the Arrivals board.

Two and a half hours. I call. And call again. And again. And finally it starts to ring. A voice on the end of the line.

“Hi, what’s happened? Are you ok?”

“Yeh, the flight was delayed a bit.”

“Which terminal are you in?”

“I guess two. I usually come into that one.”

“But there’s nothing on the arrivals board. Did you stop anywhere to change flights?”

“No, I came direct.”

“You must be in a different terminal then. Is there anyone else around you? Ask them what terminal you’ve come into.”

I’m already heading to the underground station downstairs, which shuttles you around to the different terminals.

I hear him asking another person what terminal they’re in. Then he reports the answer back to me.

“I’m in the North terminal.”

Has anyone spotted a problem? I’m in terminal TWO. He’s in the NORTH terminal. Something doesn’t quite fit here.

“Check your flight ticket.” I tell him. “What does it say for your destination?”

“Why, what’s up? It says London GTW.”

…….Yes, yes it does. And there is no way in hell that GTW means Heathrow, you nonce. It means Gatwick!

For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of London, Heathrow is out to the West somewhere. And Gatwick is south. Very far south. And London is big. And the journey between those two airports is quite significant. And I had to be in work in an hour and a half.

Eventually, after working out a complicated looking train map, I worked out that we could both get fast trains to Clapham and meet there.

I and my flowers hurried along to the underground, which I had to get to another terminal before I could get onto the fast train. The next fast train was going in about fifteen minutes. Already I’d consumed half an hour just getting on the train to Clapham. I got there quite quickly and his train took another twenty minutes. So now I’m about fifteen minutes away from needing to start work. My flowers look kinda sad now as I’ve been crashing about airports and trains and they have taken the brunt of it.

He arrives finally, as I’m hanging about aimlessly in the long corridor which joins all the platforms, swinging the flowers around and debating whether to chuck them as they’re looking a bit old.

“Boo!” he says, when he finds me, broad grin on his face.

“Hey,” I say, offering the sad looking bunch of flowers.

He loves them anyway and now, he’s staying in South West London with another friend and could I help him get there and I’m welcome to come to dinner.

I smile, offer him brief instructions then hurry off to work, for which I am late. He wanders off, like it’s no big deal, with all his stuff, gets lost and ends up in the wrong area of London, where he has another friend, who he stays with instead. Who knows what happened to the dinner that was being made for him.

Now I’m sometimes unorganised but at least I know the basics. Where and when I’m landing is not that difficult. Just remember it. I’m not asking a lot! If I’m going to meet you at the airport, just bloody tell me the right airport!

That was annoying.

Danda and the blackberry

This is a story. A story that I am calling Danda And The Blackberry. It contains adventure, daring, far away lands and valiant mission.

One day, a few months ago, I was out walking. I was listening to Vanessa Paradis’ ridiculous but catchy hit, Joe Le Taxi as I roved. I was pottering up and down hills and following the river through London and having a lovely time. The summer was at that lovely not-too-hot, just-a-slight-breeze stage. The leaves on the trees were green and I stopped often to photograph the beautiful flowers.

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I was having a lovely time. That’s when I saw it. The single ripe blackberry on the blackberry bush…

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Ah! I thought. Look what the summer day hath delivered unto me. I shall pick this single ripe blackberry and present it as a gift to somebody.

But to whom should I give this beautiful gift of the summer’s first blackberry? Hmmm.

And that’s when I thought, I shall give it to Danda. Because he is a taxi driver, he is quite often on the move and I thought he might be in the area. I gave him a quick call and he was nearby but he was taking someone to the top of the hill that I was at the bottom of. So, thought I, I shall race to the top of the hill and hopefully see him there.

Off I sped, bearing the summer’s first blackberry aloft. It was quite a long walk and really quite steep but I was on a Blackberry Mission and determined. As Danda drove up the hill, I walked as quickly as my legs would take me. He was held at a red light for ten seconds or so. This gave me the edge. Holding the blackberry gently, I power-walked through fields and past trees. I was determined. Danda’s taxi was approaching the top of the hill just as I hurried to the end of the path and out onto the pavement.

It was like someone had organised us, like chess peices, to collide at exactly the right moment. We reached the bend in the road at the same time and waved. Danda drove a little further down the road to drop the person in his taxi off while I stood panting a little and trying to regain my composure.

A minute or two later, Danda was back. He pulled over and I climbed in the back.

“Danda!” I declared with great aplomb, “I have brought you this blackberry from the Alaskan wilds, from whence I have come after my long exploration there.” (Not really, I had just been wandering around aimlessly by the Thames but that’s beside the point. Stick with me on this one.) “I have brought this, the first blackberry of the summer, to you, as it reminds me of your summery disposition and your great love of blackberries.” (He once said he’d had an apple and blackberry crumble which was tasty.)

He looked a little uncertain about the grandness with which I presented the blackberry to him but nevertheless, he took it, popped it in his mouth and ate it.

I waited, with baited breath for his verdict.

Silence.

“Danda. What of the beauty of the blackberry? Do you approve of it?”

“Mmm….” He said, nonchalantly. “It’s a bit sharp….”

Silence.

“Do you want a lift anywhere?”

In the garden

There’s a lot of Olympic-fever about. Even I, not a sportswoman by nature, have let myself get caught up in it all. I have downloaded the London 2012 app to my phone. Yes. That’s right. I have the app. And yesterday I did my fair share of whooping and running around to see the women’s bike ride in Richmond Park (no near-death experiences with deer this time!).

So anyway, while it is all quite exciting, I feel like I might need some time out for something different. With the latest sunny weather (yes, I’m aware there was thunder during the bike race yesterday, but in general, it’s been sunnier, honest), the garden is looking fabulous. So I thought we could have a little tour around.

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Tomato plant flowers

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Fuschia

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The lavender is finally attracting bees! Woop!

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Umm… What are these called? Pansies?

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More pansies

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Marigolds, I think….

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Pansies, again

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Not sure…..

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Pansies….

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Tomatoes

So there it is. For the long winter months, it looks like a wasteground so I am understandably excited that the sun has come out and there is something to show off.

Tomorrow I am off to do some Olympic stuff. There are loads of free exhibitions and, rumour has it, a maze made out of books! Thousands and thousands of them! How amazing would that be?! I’ll let you know how it goes.