17 February 2013

Peace comes dropping slow

BVG took this exquisite photograph of snowdrops in Altamont Gardens

Snowdrops. Spring. Sunlight. 
Realising that yes, sometimes peace comes dropping slow
It would be hard to ask for anything more. 

A visit to Altamont Gardens on Friday for their snowdrop walk gave us a hint of the enthusiasm that lies behind galanthophiles' obsessions ... But really, in spite of the marvellous talk by the OPW's gardener there (and I apologise to him for missing his name) about G. elwesii varieties and G. woronowii and G. nivalis S. Arnott and the joy or otherwise of the double varieties or those with yellow ovaries (the ovary in the snowdrop is the bead-like part of the flower from which the petals appear to hang), we simply enjoyed the drifts of snowdrops under the beech trees in the Nuns' Walk, their whiteness a foil for the burgundy Hellebores. And the tapestry they made throughout the well-pruned rose beds, venturing out onto the turf. And their braving it, in the company of Cyclamen coum, under a beautiful and very old cedar. And their sharing the subtle limelight with an early rhododendron in the woodland. B has caught the beauty of snowdrops so well in that photo above. You can see it, some snowflakes and other lovely images here.

Snowdrops and hellebores in Altamont Gardens

Snowdrops and Rhododendron in Altamont Gardens
I couldn't leave Altamont without one or two mementoes from the plant sales area; they included the delicate and small Tulipa humilis (only a few cm high) which I think may end up in a small wooden planter that just has one or two other alpinish plants in there. While I enjoy their blowsy, brash Dutch relatives, I find that I really prefer these smaller tulips, closer in their habit to their original cousins in Turkey or the Hindu Kush.

Tulipa humilis, welcoming the Spring sunshine
We returned to the midlands on Saturday to visit friends. Honeyed sunlight poured into the house early this morning, tempting me out for an pre-breakfast walk with one restive mini-schnauzer and her country cousin who showed her townie visitor some of the sights and smells in the surrounding fields and woods and bogs. On a later walk, we heard and saw three buzzards wheeling and floating through the fresh spring sky, wing-tips splayed and curved, sifting the wind and currents of air with ease and grace. I'd never seen or heard a buzzard before and was delighted! (D and B, thanks for a lovely weekend).

This week Spring truly has arrived - and everywhere there's someone revelling in it: dog walkers in my local park; friends who've had a tough, dreary January; a son who headed up Ticknock today to blow some cobwebs away; busy frogs in my tiny pond ... We've some way to go still, and in the hedgerows the trees' bare branches that stretch through enveloping mittens of ivy to the welcome sunlight will be bare for some time to come. But let the growing begin!

Frogspawn in the tiny pond
A buzzard claims its part of the sky
Have a good week all.

Oh, a postscript: not all of this weekend was spent outdoors, inside the work continues on trying to catch the line and colour of growing things. Only about 60 hours practice down so only--what--9940 hours to go before I might start to master some of the art. This week it was Japanese quince:

Fruit of the Japanese Quince, Chaenomeles sp. (0.35 Pencil)

Fruit of the Japanese Quince, Chaenomeles sp. (Watercolour and pencil)


  1. Your right hand pencil quince has the lovely line of a nude

  2. AA Gill, eat your heart out :-) (http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/Magazine/Features/article1179243.ece)

  3. What lovely artwork. Love those snowdrops and burgundy hellebore. I feel a bit of inspiration coming on!

  4. Thanks Angie. Yes, the snowdrops and the burgundy hellebores are lovely together; cream hellebores worked less well and didn't make it onto the blog :-)

  5. I am enjoying your blog! Lovely photos too!

  6. Thanks Shevaun, I can't claim those beautiful close-up snowdrops but i'm lucky to have a great photographer in the family.