Friday 26 April 2013

Going bananas on flowers...

Just taste the word for a moment. Magnoliolioliolias.
Everywhere I look, their pink or white upside down bud skirts are filling the sky, ready to explode into full bloom any second. Alas, there are no magnolia trees in our garden...

... but when I went for a walk this morning, 
I found myself in one of those situations that could have 
ended up being rather embarrassing ...

You know the ones where you just can't stop yourself, but h-a-v-e to lean so far over a wall just to photograph a bud and nearly end up doing a nose dive straight down into someone else's garden (in this case probably risking breaking your neck too!)? All in the name of... art. Ehm.


Speaking of art. Well, speaking perhaps rather of someone introducing a humorous little twist to their otherwise very traditional (at least externally), beautiful old cottage. I must have walked past this house in Lacock a hundred times, but not until last weekend did I notice this gentleman (?) peering out on passers-by from a small window just below the roof.

Few things are as cheerful as little flower faces stretching their necks high up towards the sky, showing off their splendid colours and singing the tunes of summer... Flowers are good for the soul, at least for mine, and if I could, I would wear flowers in my hair every day...!

 The world is turning greener by the minute and I L-O-V-E it!

... and with this rather incoherent, or shall we say 'eclectic' post, 
I would like to wish you all a sunny weekend with flowers lining your paths!

Thursday 18 April 2013

Catching a bug...

See Mr Beetle in the big frame in the middle?

Well, I did not exactly "catch" him, not as such, but for the longest time I have been a huge admirer of my dear blog friend Lisa's art, and I am now thrilled to have one of her prints on my wall! Lisa sells her paintings, prints and greeting cards here, most of which have a lovely scent of Swedish summer, whether in the form of beautiful butterflies and other insects, a summery window or simply wild strawberries on a grass straw. You can visit her blog Lisa's Hus (Lisa's House) here and, again, her web gallery to see more here. (Her websites are in Swedish, but if you are interested in buying some of her lovely art, just send her an email in English to inquire further.)

As Mr Bug Beetle looked a little bit lonely up there, I thought two temporary nature buddies could join him on either side, until I find something better. I had some ten-year-old fabric in my cupboard, with small pictures of dragonflies, nuts etc, so a snippety-snip moment later, some fabric and two old frames were introduced to  the lovely bug print. So far, they seem to get along just fine! 

Some more colourful cushions are also in the pipeline, as it is time to springify this corner even more!

Having recently been to the dentist, I found myself slurping soup for most meals for a day or two, and feeling a little lazy, the soup was of the tinned kind rather than made from scratch. Sooo, what to do with the empty tins? Well, print out some lovely vintage dragonfly images from the internet and wrap around the tins is one option, and that is the one I went for. The daffodils singing on the last verse in the garden auditioned for the role of pretty props and even if some of them were a little over-eager, stretching towards the camera in a rather deliberate sort of SEE ME manner, I think they could be right for the job...

And so, the insect theme continues...

Wishing you a lovely weekend, with or without bugs!

Sunday 14 April 2013

'Purpling' the patio...again!

To see the whole image, please click on it.

Dear readers,
Some of you may think there has been a little too much of other people's gardens here on my blog lately, so it is time to 'bring things home' again, and to do it in the way I like best... the purple way...

About a week ago, I could not wait any longer. Outside temperatures were still not very impressive, but the garden-greedy colour-yearning soul inside me just NEEDED some purple violets. Yes, it was definitely a bit of an emergency.

The rest of the garden is still looking more savage than tame, but a quick sweep of the patio, some petal power and a few hastily scattered accessories, and we could welcome our Sunday lunch guests to some outdoor living... or at least to enjoy the view from the table inside, as it was far too cold to even consider lunch on the lawn!

The new three-legged metal friend was a bargain but oh-so-heavy find from a local second-hand shop, thought to have come from an industrial unit, but I am not quite sure what it actually is. In my eyes, however, it screamed 'garden table' and after a quick choppety-chop with the bandsaw, a left-over floorboard became (yet another) table top. I will probably have to find some more durable wood for this outside all-weather friend, but for now, I can just take the table top in when the rain comes.

And the purple petal pretties? Well, I am in loooove!
Purple or not, I wish you all a very pretty week!

Ps. Recently, I 'caught' the most wonderful BUG, 
and next time I thought I might introduce him to you...

Friday 12 April 2013

The Lost Gardens of Heligan II

Welcome to the Jungle...

...or the Lost Valley, the Melon Yard, the Sundial Garden, the Italian Garden, the Wishing Well...
or one of the other many, many lovely areas of The Lost Gardens of Heligan that bear names that speak to every pore of my green-curious being...!

The Jungle is a delightful oasis with several interconnected ponds over which small bridges and stepping stones allow you to explore the different views and see the sunlight filter through some stunning green ferns.

As for the rest of the gardens, yellow seemed to be the flavour of the month. Wherever we walked, we were greeted by sunny daffodils, and this particular little grouping of mossy pots caught my eye. So simple, yet the effect of many put together is so striking, I think.

OK, go on then, throw in a pond too, I can handle giving up "simple" for this...

In the woodland part of the gardens, there was more yellow happiness to enjoy and in fact, our whole Cornwall weekend was wrapped in yellow, as daffodils are cultivated - it seems - all over Cornwall. Wherever we drove, we came across rolling fields of these cheerful yellow faces and the rest of the family soon seemed a little fed up with my excitement about this - in their eyes - trivial fact...

Perhaps I am spoiled with too much of the beautiful sand-coloured Bath stone around where I live, but I can't help but  having a secret crush on old brownish red brick walls... 

When it comes to gardens, I sometimes think 'more is more', i e bring on flowers en masse! However, sometimes 'less is indeed more', and this simple trio of pots together with a metal bench, a yummy (and yes, slightly mossy!) brick wall with a few plants trying to grow out of the actual wall, well, it does it for me! 

OK then, perhaps just add one cushion. Or two. Ehm.

Cup of tea in the sun outside the greenhouse, anyone?

So, what about the name then, why The Lost Gardens of Heligan?

There is some interesting history to be found on their website, but I have here copied some facts from Wikipedia, as a shorter version for those of you who may not have the time to explore further right now.

"The gardens were created by members of the Cornish Tremayne family, over a period from the mid-18th century up to the beginning of the 20th century, and still form part of the family's Heligan estate. The gardens were neglected after the First World War, and restored only in the 1990s."

"Before the First World War  the garden required the services of 22 gardeners to maintain it, but that war lead to the deaths of no fewer than 16 of those gardners, and by 1916 the garden was being looked after by only 8 men. In the 1920s Jack Tremayne's love of Italy, which had earlier inspired the Italian Garden, led him to set up permanent home there, and lease out Heligan. The house was tenanted for most of the 20th century, used by the US Army during the Second World War, and then converted into flats and sold, without the gardens, in the 1970s. Against this background, the gardens fell into a serious state of neglect, and were lost to sight."

On their own website, The Lost Gardens of Heligan describe how they 'rediscovered' the gardens...

"Our discovery of a tiny room, buried under fallen masonry in the corner of one of the walled gardens, was to unlock the secret of their demise. A motto etched into the limestone walls in barely legible pencil still reads “Don’t come here to sleep or slumber” with the names of those who worked there signed under the date – August 1914. We were fired by a magnificent obsession to bring these once glorious gardens back to life in every sense and to tell, for the first time, not tales of lords and ladies but of those “ordinary” people who had made these gardens great, before departing for the Great War."

Call me an old romantic fool, but this tickles the - well - the old romantic fool in me!

Think bee hives are great but do not find them so pleasing on the eye? Try 'bee boles'! Before the development of modern bee hives, they were a practical way of keeping bees in many parts of Britain. You can read more about them here

Hm. Not so keen on keeping bees myself, but I would not mind a wall like this!

There we are. It is time to say goodbye to these lovely gardens for now, but I do hope I will be able to go back one day in summertime, when I hope to see the flower garden in full bloom, see if the melon yard is indeed bursting with juicy melons and explore all the bits we did not have time to see this time. And if I do, I will certainly bring my camera again!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend and 
thank you for visiting and leaving such lovely comments. 
You brighten my days!


Tuesday 9 April 2013

The Lost Gardens of Heligan I

Did you guess it? 

Yes, I found them, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, and I am very glad I did!

Having long admired a photo in a friend's house of this fair lady, I was more than a little excited to finally get to meet her in person. On purchasing the tickets at the entrance, I was eager to find out immediately where to find her and asked the lady selling the tickets where I could find... 'eh, that woman who's lying down... you know... covered in green stuff... eh'. Yes, that was a memorable display of my eloquence... 

However, this particular ticket selling lady happened to also be a particularly kind and service-minded ticket selling lady, who seemed to be able to ignore the stuttering Swede's complete linguistic train wreck, smiled and said "Oh, you mean the Mud Maid!" and pointed her out on the map. 

"Mud Maid"?!?!? Not quite the pretty, dream-like name I had envisioned, but undeterred, I ushered my family in the direction of her restful spot.

Please click on the image if you want to see the whole image, without the top of her head missing...

And there she was.

As soon as I met this sleeping green beauty, I realised that names matter very little when you are as striking a  señorita as this. When I have seen pictures of her in the past, her arm has also been covered in moss or ivy, so I guess that perhaps she had had a small injury that had recently been seen to, and that the moss has yet to grow back. Which I do hope it does, as it now looks like she has gone for a rest, forgetting to take her dishwashing gloves off...

Rubber glove images aside, this is one of those views that is somehow not done justice on a two-dimensional screen. In real life, there is something very special about this wonderful lady, something so peaceful, so tranquil. Something that speaks to my love of unexpected and fun creations in and of nature itself. And the fact that she is in the wilder woodland part of this large and multidimensional garden makes it ten times more interesting than had she been a more "formal" green statue in the formal parts of the garden.

Oh dear, here am I rambling on. We have a lot more grounds to cover, so here we go!

Flowers. FLOWERS. 
How starved we are of some colourful growing power after a long winter, 
and how soul-nurturing they are!

Terrific tulips ready to explode into full tulip mood any day? Check. Symmetrical lines of terracotta pots creating a feature in itself? Check. Oh, and an old brick wall to offset the whole display in the best possible way, making the squeaky green leaves squeak in perfect harmony against the brownish red bricks. Yep, check that too.


Yes, and then there was that "small" greenhouse in the same walled garden. The kind of greenhouse that makes me want to hold a photo of it up to our tiny, tiny, decrepit old greenhouse in our garden and whisper "grow, grow, please will you grow into this?"...

Magnificent mini greenhouse, flowering (!) rhododendron, more tulip squeakiness and lots and lots of dovecotes - love them all!

I am not sure, but I think these are balls of box, and I am quite certain that this is the story of mummy box, daddy box and the three little box babies, all lined up to salute the clock tower of Heligan House (private) in the morning...

SO wonderful to see so many flowers out! 

I felt like I was drinking them all up with my eyes, eager to try to store them in my imaginary box of visual candy, ready to be brought out and enjoyed whenever a grey day comes along....

In the distance, you can see the sea - not exactly a painful view to put up with as you are strolling around the grounds...

Peek-a-boo to you too, Mr Giant's Head!
Did I mention how much I love a fun and creative garden?
This rather 'nosey' gentleman may be no Richard Gere,
 but he still won my heart and made me smile!

I am afraid it does not end here... 
so if you are up for another stroll around The Lost Gardens of Heligan
join me again in a few days...

Until then, to all of you mud maids and giants out there,
have a lovely day!

Saturday 6 April 2013

Polar bears and clotted cream...

(Click on the image if you want to see the whole "post card".)

A few weeks ago, we were talking about what to do over the Easter holidays. We decided that a change of scenery, and preferably one involving a beach, sounded like just the thing we needed. 

With the Easter weekend approaching, we were becoming more and more worried that our idea of sand castles on the beach and nice long walks along the coastal path, might involve risking coming face to face with polar bears and having various body parts freeze and fall off, but having booked our little cottage in St Ives in Cornwall, we resolved to adopt the British 'stiff upper lip' approach and ignore the weather.

Hey ho.


Ignoring the weather when the winds are the coldest you have ever experienced (and I am Swedish, so that should say something) may have proven a little difficult...

However, with views like the ones above and this...:

... and this...:

... who cares if you waddle along the wharf looking like a bank robber on an Arctic expedition (scarf and hat only leaving your eyes visible), if you have to force yourself to have an obscene number of Cornish Cream Teas (for those of you who may not be familiar with the splendid concept of cream tea, it means a pot of tea of your choice, together with a couple of yummy scones with delicious jam and clotted cream), and if, in the end, you are eaten by a polar bear anyway ...?!

And again, to my delight and surprise, I found evidence of feisty floral assertiveness. These flowers grew in a border in the middle of the Downalong area of St Ives, only a few streets away from where the sea embraces the "tip" of St Ives on both sides, where the gales come in with full force and where it felt like these cocky purple petals were showing the rest of the world what flower power is all about. No moaning about cold feet. No sheltering from the elements. Simply an undefeatable unison chant...: 'You can't stop us now! We are starting it! We are "springing" it! 

Flowers, I salute you!

I wish you all a day filled with inspiring flower power!

Next time, I will show you some photos from what I think may just have become one of my top two favourite garden destinations in the UK. A clue? Despite otherwise hinted, I found them without any difficulty! Can you guess where I have been?

Wednesday 3 April 2013

Where the fairies live...

If you want to see the whole photos in this post (they appear strangely cropped here), just click on them.

Dear readers,

I hope you have all had a nice Easter break and thank you so much for all your kind comments about my little sugar bomb in my last post! 

Over Easter we have been exploring one of my favourite parts of the UK, the stunning paradise that is Cornwall. A freezing paradise at the moment, I admit, but nevertheless a stunning one. In the next few blog posts, I will share a few fabulous findings from this little outing, starting, actually, at the end...


Trewoofe Orchard

If you drive inland from the charming little coastal village of Mousehole (south west Cornwall) and suddenly stumble upon a meadow (see the last photo in this post) so fairy tale-like you just have to stop to see if Tinkerbell or some other magical little creature will come skipping or bouncing across the yellow-dotted green carpet... well, then you are most likely just at the entrance of one of the most magical little gardens I have seen in a long time...

Discovering it was for us pure chance and happened just like in the description above. I had just yelled 'STOOOPPPP!' to the man in the house, who stood on the brakes to let his snap-happy, spring-starved other half stumble out of the car, moaning her 'ooooh'-s and her 'aaaah'-s at the sight of the magical meadow.

And then we saw it.

The sign that announced that the garden at Trewoofe Orchard was open to the public.

Oh boy.

Moss lovers, hold on to your hats, here we go...

Four acres of green loveliness, two of which are natural bluebell wood (I can only imagine how stunning it must look when the bluebells are out!) and the rest offering what they describe as 'more formal planting', but which in my eyes still means a relaxed sort of formal, if you see what I mean, planted but in such a way it blends naturally in with the wilder surroundings.

Barbara and Dick Waterson have done some truly amazing work here, and I could have lost myself in this mossy haven for hours if it were not for the fact that we were heading home that day and had to set off.

Moss seems to be the name of the game here, and even this bench seems to have been encouraged to fit in with the theme, perhaps even aided by a little yoghurt...? (Update: I have now learnt that no yoghurt was involved, just natural mists and lichen-encouraging weather conditions.)

Do you see the mossy tree trunk diagonally behind the bench?

This photo was taken at the foot of this yummy tree trunk and you can see part of the stream that flows through this gorgeous woodland.

Looking the other way, we are facing the house (you may spot part of the roof at the top left corner of this photo).

Those of you who may have read some of the children's stories by the wonderful late Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, would you not agree with me that this is just the kind of enchanted forest where magical beings lead very magical lives and some of Astrid's characters would not look at all out of place?

Despite the bitter, BITTER cold temperatures this uncharacteristically chilly spring, I was surprised to see some bushes in bloom. Seeing the mesmerising faces of these red beauties really did fill me with hope that there will be a spring this year too!

Behind the house is a lovely swimming pool, bordered by these green arches, offering perhaps not so much shelter for swimmers, but certainly something to feast your eyes on as you are splashing about. 

Sooo, are you tempted by this garden yet?

Well, let me then be the bearer of good news...

It is for sale! The lady of the house told us that they are selling and the house and garden could be yours for - in the excess of - £825,000! For more details, check it out on Rightmove here.

Well, should you not have that sum floating around in your pockets but still want to find out more about the gardens and how you could find it, see their own website here. Should you want to visit and are coming from afar, I strongly recommend contacting them first, to make sure the gardens are indeed open to the public on the day you would like to visit.

Now, had I had the funds to snap up this gorgeous green gem, then this is most likely where you would have found me (most likely with a number of my favourite cushions!), contemplating the world's many mysteries, sipping elderflower cordial...

(Update: This meadow is not part of the gardens at Trewoofe Orchard. It belongs to a neighbour and is private property, but can still be admired from the road!)

Call me an old romantic fool, but is this not a meadow that 
speaks to your heart, your eyes and your imagination?

Mossy greetings to you all!