Feb 6, 2015

Moving forward

2 years goes fast but the opportunities have continued. No longer in England & living in Madrid, Spain,  I am moving forward in new ways.
 My current adventures are :  Instagram:james.mc.grath    &
my work is visible here:   Selvaspina.com
    Thank you for moving forward with me! All the best- J. 

Jan 2, 2013

Two Thousand Thirteen

Wishing you the best for the year ahead, may it be a fantastic time for all!

Dec 19, 2012

Suffolk pink at Wyken Hall

            A good gardener and friend  had wanted to visit this garden, one that he had known about for a while, and asked me to come along. Always knowing an adventure, and good company, when I see it,  we set off out of the city. The palette soon changed from the gray colors of London to the refreshing greens of the countryside, with us whizzing past patchwork fields and down country lanes.
       Welcome, to the beautiful gem called Wyken Hall, where the gardens work there way around the house and the beauty is in the details.  The first, and most important thing the eye picks up on is the choice of color for the house.  The unusual color gives great contrast to all of the green that surrounds it, and in some parts creates great harmony. 

      Quincunx... Yes, say it again. Quincunx. Never had I seen one of these before or  even knew that it  had a name. (And I pride myself in knowing the names of the different garden and landscape tricks.) A quincunx is a grouping of 5 equal interlocking circles or points, with four being on the outside and one in the center, or arranged in a cross.  Buxus was the plant of choice in this case.
In the center circle is a commissioned fountain created by  Clive Davies who is a potter based in Suffolk. The colors are blue, white, and a reddish orange which is picked up by the house.
        The base for the quincunx is made up of brick and local knapped flint and shows the beauty of great craftsmanship.
Garden beds around this part of the house are very soft and pleasing to the eye, relying on simple shapes and colors, rather than being too complex.  
Kitchen garden bounty drying in the glasshouse. Imagine the smell.
 Coming to the back gardens behind the house, you enter the red hot border.  This is where the house and garden dance together, creating a flurry of excitement with an analogous color scheme that works so well.  The house became more alive to me at this point.
Achillea millefolium and flint wall.
Linking the gardens croquet lawn to the meadow beyond, where your eyes cross over a handmade gate, are a pair of sculpted sheep who seem as if they have escaped the rest of the herd.
Croquet Lawn
View of the rose garden, which used to be an to be an orchard, but is now filled with old fashiones roses, herbaceous perennials and bluebells.
Always exploring, I found sculpture hidden in a corner of the rose garden in the hedge.
          At first glance when arriving at the garden, I was not sure if the color of the house was something I really enjoyed, but it became my favorite feature of the garden. It  warmed  everything up and soon enough I was wondering what I can paint at home to have that color near me all the time.  I am so curious to know what it would look like in winter with a garden full of snow.  The copper red lime-wash, we were told, was called 'Suffolk Pink' in Elizabethan times. Did you notice the detail of the angel above the windows, sublime.
            If ever you have the chance to walk around the garden with the owner, please do, it will give you much more insight into unlocking the details that will help you understand its character more.     Thank you for warming me up Wyken Hall.

Nov 22, 2012

Gracias, Merci, Thank you.....

 Taking a moment to say Thank you to all the good and beautiful things in our lives that bring us joy.
     Happy Thanksgiving my friends, near and far. I wish you the best each day...
Thank you..x

Nov 18, 2012

Train to the past, Hampton Court Palace

 A  short ride southwest of London  on the train dropped me off close to Hampton Court Palace,where I walked into a place steeped in history since 1484.
Marveling at all the architectural details and courtyards on the way, one couldn't help but imagine roaming the grounds during the height of its heyday.  The palace itself was elevated to the beauty that it became in the "recent" year of 1514.
Passing through the palace I am finally greeted by the real reason I  came here, the gardens, which spread out before me, created over 60 acres. The Great Fountain Garden provided a wonderful view lined with clipped Taxus baccata out towards the home park, which is comprised of just another measly 750 acres.

 Taxus baccata,  which could have been very imposing and dominating on the landscape, have been clipped into some very friendly shapes, softening the horizon lines with their gumdrop shapes.  The bedding was a mix of annuals, and tubers, that helped add some burst of color amidst a vast open  green sea of turf.

 The Privy Garden, situated on the side of the palace, was created on a design from 1702. It's symmetrical pattern  includes herbaceous plants, clipped shrubs, gravel and sculptures. 

It is a space to wander through and view from above to fully appreciate the patterns in the layout of the garden design. Water, acting as reflecting pools,  gives the eyes a chance to rest while we take in the all of the shapes that encompass this garden.
It seemed to me that there was a fair amount of space between the plants, and  wishing to see it planted more lushly, I found out that this is how it was planted when the garden was created. It is important to remain true to details in  a historic garden, as this is how it was done during those days.
She poses among shapes and backdrops, while color dances in front of her.
 On one side of the Privy Garden is a Beech Tunnel, a living corridor that plays with dark and  light.

Seen from a distance, with the aloe mimicking the sheared shrubs, you can appreciate the patterns played out in the Privy garden.

Just for the love of chimneys (38?!)...  a view towards the Orangery.

The Pond Gardens are awash in color,  due to successful  intricate planting schemes

An Orangery never fails to impress, since we don't normally see these types of building created anymore.  These architectural gems were commonly used to house tender collections of plants and trees in the colder parts of the year, while in the warmer months these were put outside to benefit from the heat and rays of the sun.

The long border, which ran across the the width of the grounds, was a feat in itself due to it's length, depth, and plant palette.
It  was clearly able to hold its own, creating a flowering tapestry  that anchored  the impressive size of the palace to its vast grounds.
 She was a place of beauty.

Nov 2, 2012

Addicted and any way I can get it, pulling it together...

     When I don't have much of a garden, I find other ways to feed my addiction of having beautiful plants around me. Usually that consists of having houseplants or by way of making arrangements.  Stuffing the window box on my London terrace was one way to guarantee blooms or foliage to cut and bring inside.  It is my duty to keep fresh greens on the table at all times, regardless of the time of year.
    Another option was going to the Columbia Road Flower Market in East London. By getting there late one day, I found out certain stalls drastically mark down their prices, trying to get rid of their merchandise rather than having to pack it up again. For just 5 pounds I walked away with 12 individual bouquets one day, that I later used to mix and create my own arrangements. Orange roses, white carnations and cream Gerber daisies. ( I didn't even like some of these flowers! Carnations ?! Never, but I realized they last so long as a cut flower and now I respect them in a new found way..)
While doing work in other gardens I will salvage things that are heading for the compost pile and use them at home. Lichen covered Azalea branches, some moss from my terrace, and a single Galanthus nivalis bulb in bloom, just a little bit of woodland inside.
Fatsia japonica is another plant that I never really cared for, looking messy and out of place in the garden, but when I saw the fruits I felt the need to do something with them.  Muscari armeniacum (from the window box), Tiarella 'Crow'  (from the window box) and Fatsia japonica.
Even single arrangements grouped together of Euonymus fortunei 'Blondy' and Helleborus blooms works for me.
Another addiction is ceramics and vases, which I find anywhere, but that's another story..  When I found this one, reminiscent of a loaf of bread, in a Paris flea market, I knew this was my keepsake memory to stuff into my suitcase and take home. Thank goodness it didn't break. 
 For lunch with friends I filled it with a plethora of Viola blooms from the window box. They added a nice scent once brought inside and now reminded me of a 50's swimming cap.
And here was a favorite I called " The Canary and the Lion"
The yellow pom-pom like blooms and foliage of the tree Acacia dealbata and the foliage of Begonia rex, which I had as a houseplant.  Don't underestimate those houseplants, make them work for their money!
 An arrangement that I look forward to doing again is Dahlia 'Chat Noir' (picked up the tubers from the Columbia Road Flower Market and grown on my terrace in the window box), and mixed them with dark blue glaucous grapes (supermarket!), which sit on one very large leaf of Begonia rex. These arrangements give me such pleasure, acting as living sculptures that give off a certain sense of mood.
Viennese cafe? Apple strudel anyone?

Mexican mood? Dahlia 'Helga' and a tiny burro? Homage to Frida Kahlo? Maybe?!

Doing flowers used to intimidate me because I felt they never looked "right" and now I don't care, and that is when I started really enjoying it and it became fun.

Whether it's a color story, texture, mood, scent, it doesn't matter,  it gives great pleasure from the start

the end.
To the those affected by Sandy in the U.S.,  you are in my thoughts.......xoxoxo