Archive for March, 2015

Two lilies haiga

As Easter draws near, many bouquets of lilies are appearing for sale. Gardens too are filling with these gorgeous blooms. Everyone loves daylilies, (Hemerocallis), an attractive perennial flowering plant. As its name suggests, each flower lasts for no more than 24 hours since most species open their blooms in early morning, only to wither by day’s end.

A daylily has three petals, and three sepals—these six known collectively as tepals. The centre of the flower is often a different colour from the outside edges of its tepals, and six  stamens grow from the throat. The variety of colours now available in these easy to cultivate lilies is simply breathtaking. Enjoy them when you see them as all too soon they will be gone.

Grove of lillies 1

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Bluebell  flowers

Photo courtesy of Leslie Fry

Tis the spot where I shall lie
When life has had enough of me,
These are the grasses that will blow
Above me like a living sea.

These gay old bluebells will not shrink
To draw their life from death of mine,
And I will give my body’s fire
To make blue flowers on this vine.

‘Oh Soul,’ I said, ‘have you no tears?
Was not this body dear to you?’
I heard my soul say carelessly,
‘The bluebell flowers will grow more blue.’

Sara Teasdale

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Pleasures of the Garden, cover

Occasionally an irresistible book captures my attention, and a recent example is, ‘Pleasures of the Garden – A Literary Anthology.’ Published by the British Library, with selections made by Christina Hardyment, its contents contain excerpts of garden writing presented in fiction and poetry by a large range of voices. Many extracts are  also beautifully illustrated  with prints, oil paintings, and water colour images from the British Library’s art collections.

Gardens have been cherished in all times and cultures, as is noted in the writings of Tao Yuan Ming, a fourth-century Chinese poet, and Pliny, in first-century Italy. Closer to our times are the works of fiction, essays, poetry, letters and memoirs of Charlotte Brontë, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jane Austen, Rudyard Kipling and D.H. Lawrence. Through the pages of this anthology we are introduced to the gardens created and celebrated by many of the world’s finest writers.

Pleasures of the Garden

This literary treasury celebrates the garden as a place  of solace in a busy world, a retreat for lovers, and an earthly paradise. ‘Pleasures of the Garden,’ is a book that will be appreciated by those who love to visit, read, and rest in gardens, as well as those who create and tend their own.

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Engliosh cottage garden

Ask any friends or family members how they would describe a cottage garden and chances are they might suggest the following: intimate and informal, heirloom plants with lots of colour, looking like my grandmother’s garden. When we talk about a cottage garden we are really speaking about an English cottage garden, as the plants and flowers used in this garden style are those first seen in gardens throughout England. These charming gardens all conjure up thoughts of romance, butterflies, bumble bees, and lazy summer days.

Tasmanian snap dragons

The typical English cottage garden is small and compact, brimming with brightly flowering cottage garden plants. They appear to be haphazard as they typically surround a smaller home or cottage with a front porch. Climbing roses, vines and wisterias often define the height of these gardens, either by cascading over an arbour, or by growing down the front of the house. Masses of fragrant flowers and herbs are planted in small pockets rather than in large drifts. Favourite plantings include: daisies, primroses, violets, snapdragons, cornflowers, lavender, petunias, pansies, sweet peas and hollyhocks. As a cottage garden depends on grace and charm rather than a formal structure, different heights and levels can be obtained by using raised garden beds, contrasted by large flowering pots and colourful ground covers.

Cottage garden 6

Choose simple flowers for your cottage garden, making sure they are old-fashioned varieties. The garden should present a sense of random casualness as though nature had widely scattered its seed to paint this variegated tapestry. If you choose a whole spectrum of colour keep the palette soft, or break this up by placing occasional foliage plants to add a touch of green or silver. As the garden blossoms into its fulness, don’t forget to include garden seats or a bench, as this is the ideal place to rest and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

The gardner's rest

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Flowers for sale POTG 3

There’s something about March—summer’s last big push—here in the Southern Hemisphere. Parks, markets and gardens are filled to overflowing with beautiful displays of flowers and fruits. Though the days are still hot, nature reaches its fulfillment by brimming over with richness and ripeness, ready for the coming harvest. It’s time again for the horticultural shows and garden expos to strut their stuff.

Sun flowers.POTG 7

What a variety of plants, floral art and craft is on offer this year, probably due to the plentiful rain! If orchids are your thing their display is dazzling, with every shape and colour imaginable to attract the buyer.

Orchids galore POTG 5

Orchids, POTG 2

Scarlet anthuriums, with their shiny green foliage, add an exotic touch. They decorate a special corner reserved for unusual plants.

Anthuriums.POTG 1

Several carnivorous plants also nestle among the exotics. These have evolved modified leaves known as pitfall traps—a prey-trapping mechanism—featuring a deep cavity filled with liquid. Pity the poor insect that lights on the lip, drawn by the sweet scent of the liquid. The rim of each pitcher plant is slippery, causing insects to fall into the trap. Inward and downward pointing hairs on the inside of the pitcher ensure that the insects cannot climb out again. Liquid at the bottom of the pitcher drowns the insect, as its body is gradually dissolved.

Pitcher plants.POTG 6

Native plants, too, are in abundance at this time and make gorgeous floral bouquets.

Natives in a basket POTG 4

Native bouquet 2

Finally you can rest your weary feet by enjoying a tea or coffee break, while  sampling some delicious home baked food. Demonstrations and talks—expert advice from others—also offer much to the visitor. These shows are a wonderful way to catch up up with friends, to learn something new, and to bring home the pleasures of the garden.

Check out my new post in the Books & Articles tab. There may be something of interest here.

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