19 May 2013

Thank You for the Days

I'm going to open this week with a song. From the late Kirsty McColl: do have a listen, although it's on youtube, there's no video, just the music and McColl's gentle, low-key voice: Thank You For The Days.

Thank you for the days is kind of how I'm feeling this evening. First of all it has been a most beautiful summer's day here in Dublin today. It might be our last  for this season, but we made the best of it. All day in the garden, moving plants, potting up stray seedlings that have popped up in the garden (who knows when they might come in handy?); lunch, dinner, and a bit of just sitting, in disbelief, under a blue cloudless sky. We weren't the only ones - finally we welcomed some bees into the garden today. There were bumble bees knocking around this morning at about half-past seven--filling the gaps in the blackbird's song with their low, comfortable drone--and later in the day, some plain old honey bees trying to nudge the Cotoneaster flowers to open their still tight buds. The garden has really filled out in the last couple of weeks, racing to catch up with the season after such an abysmally long, grey spring: the graceful arches of Solomon's Seal are echoed in the unfurling Adiantum. The pendulous Bleeding Hearts are a more show-offey reminder of the fairly demure-looking bells on the Enkianthus. And a gorgeous Erysimum, that I bought from an alpine gardener in April at one of the shows, does just what I wanted it to do--its colours a perfect foil to the purpley-black foliage of the Ophiopogon. (Any artist reading this, do feel free to let me know just what those colours are?)

Solomon's Seal and friends

Adiantum unfurls

Smilicina and Rodgersia

Erysimum and Ophiopogon
The blossom on my lone tiny apple tree is really prolific this year: don't know if it's the late spring this year or the wet summer last year (all the plants in the garden are very lush this year) but I've noticed it all over the place. And particularly in the orchard at Kilfane Glen and Waterfall, where I spent part of Saturday with some mighty women talking about botanical art, how a society of botanical artists might work, and how it might be funded. Many thanks to SM for the use of the cottage ornée for the meeting and for being such a gracious hostess, and to SM again, as well as JT, SD and YP, for great discussions and a delicious lunch. As a friend remarked later, "it's far from cottages ornées you were reared...", and she's not wrong, but as a venue for a meeting I'd have to recommend this one, except for the noisy, rackety waterfall outside of course :-). The only regret I had was that I couldn't stay longer: we had walked down through the woodland, but we came back up through the garden, but without enough time to stop and exclaim as often as I wanted. It was on this part of the journey that I saw the orchard: concentric rings of lichen-clad, blossom-laden trees, underplanted with camassias and bluebells in the outer ring and tulips in the inner ring. Artful and beautiful, as you'd expect in such a place. I know there was lots more to see, but maybe there'll be another opportunity.

It's tough, having to go to these meetings.... Cottage orneé in Kilfane Glen

Osmunda regalis does the crozier thing in Kilfane Glen

Tulips and (in the outer circle) Camassias and bluebells in the orchard at Kilfane
Kilfane blossom
Kilfane wasn't the only beautiful garden I was in at the weekend. The sun shone down on Burtown House on Friday when a group of botanical artists visited the home of Wendy Walsh and her family. I'll be writing about that trip elsewhere, but will just say here that it was a magical day - wandering through an early 18th century house filled with paintings, being given a guided tour of the lovely gardens by their designer, eating a delicious lunch in the sunny courtyard with a bunch of gardeners and artists (with the odd historian/architect thrown in for good measure).

I mourned my own Acer palmatum dissectum all the more when I saw this one at Burtown House

A lovely example of the small garden trees (the Cornus and the Acer)
complementing  and echoing the mature trees behind. 

The meadow

Sculpture in the meadow

Viola 'Molly Sanderson' by Wendy Walsh; one redoubtable woman saluting another.
And if you're still in the mood for music, this is one of the richest folk voices ever:
Stan Rogers singing Dark-Eyed Molly
My own garden looked even smaller on my return from such grand places, but it's my haven, filled these morning and evenings with scents from my False Spikenard and my neighbour's Berberis and with plants racing into early summer growth and birds and insects (see B's photos here) completing the whole. Which is just about where I came in.

Have a good week all.

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