Burnby Hall Gardens, Pocklington, East Yorkshire, 8th September 2012

We visited Pocklington for family reasons, stopping off at Burnby Hall Gardens where they have a National Collection of Hardy Water Lilies. Founded by Major Percy Marlborough Stewart and his wife Katharine in 1904 it was left to the people of Pocklington on Percy’s death in 1962. The day in 2012 when we first visited the gardens was quiet, last summer we visited on Sunday and it was packed and vibrant. There are two lakes packed with fish and lilies of all colours. Following the gardens we visited Flamborough Head, accounting for the last image, Burnby not being big enough to accommodate white cliffs and tides.

In praise of moss ….

Well I’m not going to praise moss on our front lawn where the shade of the house and recent rain has almost made me leave my armchair and do a little raking. “Almost”, there being gardening tasks one can always leave for another day. I have plenty of those. Today I’ll just photograph the tiny stone trough in which are sempervivums, saxifraga and, er, moss. All those “stone” troughs that are really not stone at all never look quite the real deal because they stay stubbornly clean due to the absence of lichen and moss. Here my pot benefits from the attractive growths that appear as if by magic, there being an abundance of spores in the air. I’m not raking out this lot.

Narcissus Cyclamineus "Peeping Tom"

Narcissus Cyclamineus “Peeping Tom” is one of those plants with a name written in stardust, apt and appropriate save that this little fellow can spy on me all day. The hybrid is early flowering and reliable, its slender trumpet a welcome sight as winter transforms to Spring. Looking out on the garden as I write I can see how strong is the flower in withstanding the windy weather that can wreak havoc on the heavier narcissus varieties. I have seen images on the web where the petals are swept back like its species parent. Mine have always been like this.

Hepatica x media ‘Millstream Merlin’

Hepatica x media ‘Millstream Merlin’ is new to me this year. I have many hepaticas, not all of which do well when I meddle with them, resenting any movement. ‘Millstream Merlin’ is certainly the deepest blue of my plants and has a bright yellow stamen, providing a stunning contrast. Do not get the size out of proportion with my close-up image, this being a miniature marvel. However its vivid colouring does take the eye even among the cyclamens, crocuses, narcissus and snowdrops. It is the first hepatica in flower this year. Sometimes the catalogues get things wrong. Not in this instance. And I was amazed to see the price paid recently on the ubiquitous eBay, £45 plus postage is a little steep even for this jewel particularly as a little research would have discovered a cheaper, very reliable source – check Anne Wright’s nursery.

Old Stavanger, Norway, 23rd July 2011

The day after the atrocities in Oslo and on the island of Utøya, we were mercifully still unclear about the scale of the murders and enjoying a rainy day on our first port of Stavanger, specifically the old town with its white buildings and neat gardens. The wooden houses of this conservation area represent the largest such settlement in northern Europe, a rare survivor, wood not proving a durable building material in an age of open fires. The area is uncommercialised and made even more attractive by the liberal use of potted plants and window boxes. No-one was about, the residents doubtless absorbing the dreadful news. The national despair pervaded all Norway for the two weeks of our travels. Such a lovely country and the slaughter of the innocents.

Henry Moore "King and Queen", RHS Wisley, 5th February 2016

Made in 1953, the original studio copy for Henry Moore’s “King and Queen” series of sculptures is an added bonus this winter at RHS Wisley. It overlooks the “canal” standing in front of the already beautiful period building that houses the laboratory. Moore chanced on the design while shaping his modelling wax into a flattened head and thence into the King, to be joined by the Queen. This is the third year the the sculpture has been on display, retained by popular demand. By way of contrast, another of the sculptures is on display at the Tate. Wisley suits the monarchs better don’t you think?

The original buildings at Wisley are attractive even on an overcast, cold February day.
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And suburban though it might be I like the house by the entrance.