(Delightfully named after the Reverend Adam Buddle although not discovered by him) I’ve just finished one of my favourite garden jobs and I’m sweaty ,dirty ,scratched and happy to prove it. I always cut the spent tips of my butterfly bush because I don’t like the look of them when they’re brown and dead and also because I read an article about forcing a second flowering, both to my advantage and to that of the butterflies. This secondary flowering will be less showy than the first one but all the same….. As you might know the common and garden Buddleia is also known as the butterfly bush. It’s a lovely job though, because you’re buried in the green border “inside” the perfume. There were a few random brambles this time, various biting critters and some menacing bees hovering, waiting to take over!
The garden has been an inspiration for many artists, probably the most famous one is French painter Claude Monet who acknowledged that his garden in Giverny had inspired so many of his impressionistic works especially his waterlily series.
But he was not the only one. Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla created his garden in Madrid and it was inspired by Islamic Gardens the most famous one of which is probably Generalife, Alhambra in Granada.
“Be joyful with every orange you pluck
From their very presence comes joy
Welcome the faces of the boughs
Welcome the stars of this tree
You might believe that heaven has showered her gold
And for us the earth has forged these golden pomes”
[Ali al_Ballanubi,Arab poet from Sicily]
Pierre Bonnard was influenced by leading English garden designers and his gardens ran “wild and free”.On the other side of the world Frida Kahlo had her own unusual garden at the Casa Azul in Mexico. She used native species in coloured highly coloured pots. One of the most fascinating gardens I have had the pleasure to visit was Jardin Majorelle in Marocco. Jacques Majorelle was a painter with “Orientalist” leanings and his garden was taken over and lovingly cared for by fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. When you enter the Jardin Majorelle I think the first thing you notice is the daring contrast of the lush green garden with a particular shade of blue which amazingly looks very very beautiful Film maker Derek Jarman’s garden at Dungeness which he built on the shingle, integrating his garden with sculpture, driftwood and other flotsam, now seems to be in danger and garden lovers are gathering together to protest and to try and save it. Before we leave the inspiration of gardens I’d just like to touch on gardening and architecture. It is said that the huge, spectacular Crystal Palace (now lost) built for Prince Albert’s visionary Great Exhibition in 1851, was inspired by the “architecture of the Victoria Amazonica floating water lily leaf. Finally I’ll talk about the future: there is a garden which is on my bucket list, well, there are many gardens on my bucket list ! but this one is again in Morocco and it is a garden created by Italian Umberto Pasti who wanted to save some of the autochthonous plants from the savage destruction caused by unrestricted tourism which replaced beautiful, unusual, precious, wild plants with the usual colour of cement to make ugly holiday homes and and resorts with swimming pools and golf courses.
When you think about it isn’t it wonderful. The way you gradually come out from that longing for hot heavy food and drink and emerge like a newborn into a world of salad and fresh- picked fruit? Suddenly the snug scarf round your neck and up to your nose can be shed and you come out of your chrysalis and show the world some skin. Oh for heaven’s sake shut up about the rolls of fat round your waist and the idea that you’re less than beautiful! Personally I could weep when I see the faces, yes some old, not all beautiful without make- up, unshaven, yes I could weep at the beauty of you all! What’s that? Well for starters you’re still alive dammit! You’re making it past this sludge and hate and terror- time of the virus. And another thing: I don’t want a tropical island or a never-ending sun! What a bore! I want Autumn with those glorious colours, I want the sound of the leaves scraping across the shining wet asphalt, I want the sound of the rain and maybe some thunder.
Eternal summer I’m letting the stupid celebs keep it. We’re all born for change believe me. Look at your kids your grandkids; what could be more exciting than charting the course of these drooling shitting bundles of joy into toddlers and eventually creatures like you with opinions to fight over and love. No no I’ve gotta have bulbs to coddle and to watch over, buds to wait for with bated breath, change in all its forms. I’ve gotta see how my garden is maturing, how my family is growing up, how my students are improving and the little thought “that was me, just a little”.So, off to your paradise islands if you must but beware! Autumn will come (and go) Winter will arrive and I’ll be pulling up my cuddly fake fur collar and eating truffles in Alba. My goodness, how many Pina Coladas have you had to drink today to drown your homesickness? Poor you!
Yes, well along with everything else worthwhile: cricket, all dressed in white on the village green, bucolic!; afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches (no crusts) and scones with raspberry jam and whipped cream; a proper breakfast with cholesterol-busting bacon, eggs beans, hash browns, fried bread; the weather with information on the best places to experience it published in magazines; messin’about in boats; beer warm and flat, not this continental joke of lager; gin and tonic which kept Elizabeth the Queen Mum alive well into her 100’s; my goodness I could go on forever , the list is endless. But I’ve just had the most terrible shock! I wanted to write about my glorious golden yellow rose and I find that it was bred ….in Germany! So after this dramatic wakeup call I decided to research the origins of my other roses. You won’t believe this! I nearly didn’t ….and they’re mine, in my garden, loved under the illusion that they are all English roses! Loved and pampered under false pretences! One is German, two are French, one is Spanish and only two are English roses! We could’ve stayed in the European Union! And I am always so careful, trying to re-create my little bit of home in my backyard! I drive the poor bulb man from Rome crazy insisting on only English bluebells, I order Spring daffodils from England, and clematis England’s second favourite flower? That too.
You never,ever know enough do you? Because the information is all there at a tap on your phone. MAIGOLD (Kordes 1953) The Kordes family is based in Schleswig-Holstein (I thought that the Grimm brothers invented this name for a fairy tale!) and is an innovative breeder responsible for early flowering roses.
FELIPE KIFTSGATE (Murrel 1964) This one was developed by Hilda Murrel, a rose grower and campaigner against nuclear energy. Her rose was popularised by being grown in Vita Sackville-West’s famous Sissinghurst gardens.
SOMBREUIL (Robert 1850) but unfortunately I can find nothing about him though he sounds French.
GHISLAINE DE FELIGONDE ( Eugene Turbat 1916 )Another mysterious Frenchman, but Ghislaine was a nurse in the great war who married a wounded soldier the Count of Feligonde.
MME:GREGOIRE STAECHELIN (Dot 1927) a breeder who put Spanish rose growers on the map famous for his shrub variety.He has been likened to Gaudi as a kind of expressionist because he “consistently chose roses with a wilder and more extreme character than their parents.”
MALVERN HILLS (Austin 2000) breeder of English style roses and one of the fathers of the modern English rose.
That’s a difficult choice for a gardener. Naturally you want your visitors to gasp with admiration but unfortunately they do that in front of the huge blooms of Hibiscus. I still can’t fathom why I bought it in the first place? A moment of madness I suppose. Every year I decide to get rid of it but I’m against destroying healthy plants, and it is , it is! I remember being so excited when the man in charge of my condo asked if he could come and take pictures of my garden and how bitterly disappointed I was when he went straight over to the oversized pink hibiscus. On the other hand I realise I can’t get everyone down on their knees crawling about under the 3 big Osmanthus trees searching for my epidemiums and once they’ve found them needing a magnifying glass to pick out the details of the tiny flowers! These are my latest love. I’m totally in love with these little plants whose flowers appear overnight and which are quite difficult to research. The only book I have found so far is in French as is my book on fougères (ferns). I have to give the French their due, they’re very refined plantsmen and women. And getting back to visitors people don’t always understand that my beloved hakonechloa don’t have flowers that you might notice. I was reading the other day that we gardeners don’t really enjoy garden visitors especially when they don’t appreciate our efforts, but what is even worse is when they try to give their piecemeal advice. I can never understand collaborative gardening, getting together in the potting shed to make decisions over a cuppa? Heaven forbid! So now you know, if you come to see my garden, you must first practise a range of “oooh”s and “aaah”s then I think I’ll let you in and tell you the boring story of this one, that one and the other one ,because as you know any self-respecting garden has plants grown from cuttings her mum gave her, bulbs her friend wanted to throw away, precious cargo brought home from the Chelsea Flower Show……forewarned is forearmed!…