Out of the Garden

Two new toys arrived in the post the other day and rather than getting on with urgent tasks – the garden had been sadly neglected during the run-up, the event, and aftermath of my “official” birthday party – I spent a whole morning playing with them.

Rosa 'Bourbon Queen'

 Both are useful, but one is particularly so, as it saved me a lot of money. It was a toss-up between it and a helicopter.

How does one view, let alone photograph, those flowers high above the ground, the spidery Embothrium blossom nine feet up, the climbers that are making their way over the roofs or flinging their limbs through the lofty heights old larch trees? One gets into one’s helicopter. But helicopters, if used frequently, are bad for your health: they impair your hearing and shake the reflexes out of your body – I have this on good authority.

 A zoom lens brings distant subjects close, and as far as I can ascertain, its use leaves one without lasting side effects. At last I have a close-up of Rosa ‘Bourbon Queen’.

The other toy, a macro lens, is difficult to use during windy weather, so I’ll be rushing out on calm days to snap some intimate floral detail, such as the silver-dusted flowers of Primula capitata.

Priumula capitata

Just now and again its good to leave ones own plot and have a look at a few others, those created by gardeners or by Mother Nature.

It’s years since I have been to Westerwick and fragments of its charms, still lingering somewhere in the dark, intracranial recesses of my mind, have become complete once more. The natural rock gardens, where plants cling onto the bare stones of the hilltops are far better than anything I could conjure up – and need no maintenance.

The 'Ship' at Westerwick

A pair of ravens nesting there now and again swooped low over our party to remind us of our trespassers’ status.

 As you climb up to the right from the turning place you’ll enjoy majestic views over the ‘ship’: a steep, long spine of pink granite, that juts out into the sea, like the hull of a huge vessel, and behind it, a deep, still, dark-green pool.

There were more gardens on the shore, sea-smoothed and polished stone adorned with moss-green filigree seaweed – perfect in their simplicity and restraint.

seaweed garden

It’s been a year or more since I visited Magnie’s garden at Crogran, Culswick, and it looked the best I’d ever seen. Its clever layout makes it seem much larger than it is, as the narrow, beautifully mown grass paths lead the visitor through a meander of willows, past small ponds, down to the marshes with their impressive stands of Senecio smithii, the Magellan ragwort, in full, glorious bloom.

Near the house, a red Asiatic lily had found its perfect partner in a feathery stand of purple fennel, but there is one plant combination I’m particularly fond of: Geranium ibericum, interwoven with the foam of Alchemilla mollis, at the foot of Crogran’s large rockery.

Magnie's Garden

South Africa is coming into its own now: the pineapple lilies, believed lost to frost, are now above ground, there are fat buds on the gladioli, and cape daisies flower their hearts out. They look fabulous sprawling on the gravel, and wonderful when mingling intimately with their neighbours.

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