parc de wesserling

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Inspired by this photograph which I came across in a magazine,

glass-lace-plate-300

I persuaded my husband to take me to Alsace (north east France) for the weekend to visit the exhibition where I was hoping to see this and similar examples. In the event this plate was not in the exhibition at all but was for sale in the museum shop. I thought Kerry would be particularly interested in this piece. I had never thought of combining a fabric element within a glass dish and I think the effect is quite spectacular. Unfortunately photography was not allowed in the exhibition but here are links to the websites of the creators of this piece:

www.noisetier.com and http://artetdentelle.free.fr/pages/accueil.html.

the exhibition was about lace in various sculptural forms and the pieces were quite extraordinary, not what you think of as lace at all.

This exhibition was only a small part of what you could visit at the Parc de Wesserling which originally housed a fabric printing industry with all its attendant buildings – print shops, church, school, housing for the workers and the gardens, which particularly appealed to me.

A pair of old boots

and a coffee pot have been “recycled” to provide nesting boxes for the birds in the park.

During the month of August at weekends the gardens were illuminated at night and could be visited until 11pm. The theme this year was “les jardins metissés”, a loose translation of which would be “woven gardens”. Entrance to the first part of the park (the potager or vegetable garden) was through a gateway of cotton reels

Each bed in the potager had been designed using a piece of fabric to provide colour and pattern and it was fascinating to see how effective the planting was using this idea. Mannequins stood at the corners of some of the plots together with a planting plan so that you could see how effective the planting could be. I love the idea of designing a garden using your favourite piece of fabric to suggest colours and patterns.

this picture illustrates how crop/planting rotation can be used to provide the colour scheme and pattern

Until I read this notice I had no idea that tomato plants don’t like water on their leaves so the umbrellas are there to protect them whilst still allowing sunlight to get to them. French marigolds are planted around the base of the tomato plants to keep away the bugs

The contents of these preserving jars looked good enough to eat, filled as they were with pieces of vegetable and lots of flowers, but they may just have been filled to look good as they caught the sun

a piece of garden statuary

We had an excellent dinner in the côté des jardins restaurant which was housed in the original school building and overlooked most of the gardens. Afterwards we wandered around the gardens in the dark, not attempting the barefoot garden of the senses in the dark although we did walk through it with our shoes on.

A strange creature in stilts and wearing a costume that looked a root vegetable with lots of rootlets sprouting out of it was wandering round the garden.

In another area a girl was making dreamcatchers while telling the story of the spider which apparently had inspired the original dreamcatchers.

Other dreamcatchers hung in the trees

and strips of fabric had been woven into this hut made of twisted vines

The gardens were quite different at night from the daytime.

On Saturday we had breakfast in the auberge des cascades where we were stayed the night

and then returned to the Parc  to see the rest of the gardens.

we couldn’t quite walk through the eyes of these needles which had been threaded with strings of lights

the spiral water garden – you were supposed to be able to use the hand pump to pump enough water to run from the top of the spiral to the bottom but there didn’t appear to be any water in the reservoir

The back of the main building had been covered in this huge fabric mural produced by local art students

these two pictures depict a loom

I was hoping to be able to see the exibition of watercolours by the artist Bruno Mathieu but it was closed

In another part of the complex was a shop selling garden decoration. This piece of stone collage/mosaic particularly caught my eye as it is composed of pieces of semi precious stone

and a real scare crow

Singapore botanic garden

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Singapore botanic gardens deserved a day to itself as the gardens were quite extensive and we still didn’t manage to see everything. They were divided into different sections – the ginger garden, national orchid garden, the mist house and others.

tree of life

Eco lake

grasses

cotton rose mallow (hibiscus mutabilis) – the flowers start off white and then turn pink

new fern growth

a different type of fern

a ginger specie

torch ginger

bronze sculpture of girl with baby with a flame tree in the background

perfect photo opportunities are offered by these arches of yellow orchids

bronze sculpture of child with lilies

another bronze sculpture

air plants (bromeliads)

Spring is yellow

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If you were to ask me “what colour is Spring?” I would answer, without hesitation, Yellow. After an exceptionally wet winter (and the rain still continues), this part of Turkey has been blessed with a beautiful Spring with masses of yellow flowers everywhere. At first it was pure yellow, followed by the occasional splash of blue or purple (tiny little irises). Now it’s back to yellow again but with the bloody splashes of the poppies. In Europe the poppies flower much later (usually in June) and here they are a much more intense colour. How many different yellows can you count? I’ve lost count now with the wild fennel, yellow daisies, mustard flowers, mimosas, pale and dark yellow brooms, gorse, yellow poppies and “black”- which are actually yellow – Mulleins.

Strasbourg gardens

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Strasbourg has beautiful municipal gardens where the plantings are regularly changed. In early September they were a mixture of reds and bronzes with texture achieved through the addition of various grasses and some members of the cabbage family.


On an early morning walk to work I photographed these drops of rain hanging off the ends of bamboo leaves with the sun making them shine like so many diamonds.

My namesake plant is variously known as Traveller’s Joy or Wayfarer’s Joy or Old Man’s Beard. Here it is photographed in 3 stages of its existence all on the same plant – flowers, flowers turning to seed heads and fully fledged seed heads.

beauty in unexpected places

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When I was still working I used to drive across country to get to my office. Away from the noise and queues of  motorists waiting to get on to the motorway my route took me through 2 country villages and one which was half country village and half suburb of the city. Driving along this same route some months later I was amazed to see a miniature field of multi-coloured poppies at the roadside. Somebody must have emptied a packet of different poppy seed and wild flowers on to this small area, about 5x3m. It was a mass of vibrant colour. I just had to stop and take some photos.

Sissinghurst Castle Garden

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Last weekend I was lucky enough to visit Sissinghurst Castle Garden in Kent (UK). I had long wanted to visit this particular garden as it is famous for having a series of “rooms” within the garden and the white garden is perhaps the most famous part of the gardens.

It was the home of the famous writers and gardeners Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson, members of the Bloomsbury set and friends of Virginia Woolf (amongst others). It is not a castle as such but bears more resemblance to a French chateau/grand manor house. It is not possible to visit the house, except for the library, as it is still inhabited by descendants of the family, but the tower where Vita had her writing room and the gardens are open to the public.

Her writing room, although it has windows, has windows above normal eye height – presumably so that she would not be distracted by the outside world while she was writing. There are books everywhere, a huge fireplace – doubtless much needed in a typical British winter – and a large cushion-covered day bed.  In later years Harold was given a writing room of his own and the gazebo/garden writing shed is in a corner of the orchard overlooking the moat and with views over the wide open countryside behind.

After visiting here I have come to the conclusion that all women need a room of their own in which to write or, failing that, a garden shed ….

“A flowerless room is a soulless room, to my way of thinking; but even one solitary little vase of a living flower may redeem it.” Vita Sackville-West

“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?” Vita Sackville-West, Twelve Days, 1928.

A plan of the garden, more pictures and information are available here

Here are some of the pictures I took that day.