Sep 29, 2008

Welcome to Jerusalem

There couldn't be more of a contrast between being in England and coming to Israel. One is lush and green and the other is dry and many shades of brown and pink. Another contrast is going from living in a 15th Century house in the countryside to a 10 story building back in the city.

Right across from the apartment I now live in, yes that's the one under my finger, is a park called Valley of the Cross. This is where it is said that the wood was taken for building the cross of Christ.

The park has an old monastery in it, which you can see, and is filled with olive trees. The weather here is very hot and very dry, with tempatures dipping in the evening, but the plants are really tough here.

The plants are different from anything I have ever expected. There are Pomegranates everywhere too.

Here is an old olive tree in the park across the street from my apartment. The trunks are all twisted and have a sculptural quality to them, each being different from the next. Here is the olive itself, hanging all over the branches. This is the time of year that these are harvested to press them for olive oil.

Israel is full of many types of bulbs and right now the maritime squill, Urginea maritima, is in full bloom. There are native Cyclamen, narcissus, and tulips that I look forward to seeing in the next few months.

Here is a closeup of the maritime squill.
Even the street trees are different, with there being many palms and eucalyptus trees dotted throughout the city of Jerusalem. On the left is the date palm, the orange fruits you see on there are the dates, and the eucalyptus it at the top on the right. This is just one of the many types of Eucalyptus trees, with their ornamental bark. This is the Israeli version of the London plane tree. And Aurecarias of many shapes ,
and sizes.

The beautifully colored blue morning glory which is climbing a pine, seems to really enjoy the heat here.

The lovely Passionflower spills over the walls of houses here too.
Bougainvillea is a common sight here with a white flowered version and the pink version, with many other colors too.

Here is a combination of plants that never would have crossed my mind before. An olive tree, a Chameacyparis (I think), lavendar, Rosemary, and a huge sweep of Pennisetum setaceum 'Rubrum'.As you can see each thrives really well here in the heat. This is how you do Echeveria....
This is Lantana, unlike the summer annual it is at home, where in Israel it grows to become a full size woody shrub. This is not your grandmothers Lantana.... Here are some terraces planted up. Everyone has a terrace, it is just considered another room here. And the hedge on the bottom of the picture is Plumbago. The window boxes literally spill over the sides of this terrace and rooftop here creating a vertical garden against the walls. Pelargoniums are the most noticeable with this.
A front yard garden with some interesting architecture.
A courtyard garden with gourds and peppers. The shutters on the windows are used to keep out the heat during the day.
In the parks, water features are used to help combat effects of the heat. The fountain in the middle is unlike any I have seen before, very ornate.
This subtle detail of the lions couldn't help but put a smile on my face.

This is the local market called the Shuk. You can find all types of breads, fruits, vegetables and anything else you could imagine. The smell here is amazing with everyone yelling trying to get you to buy whatever it is they are selling.

The Old City is like taking a step back in time. It is a walled area of Jerusalem and was the original city before it became too crowded and people were forced to move outside the walls.

You can find anything in here, with it's maze like streets and corriders.
This was a small breadmaker that produced pita bread.
Some of the side alleys,

and arches. The colors in the Old City and at the markets are exciting to my eye. From all of the quilts,

and textiles,

to seedpods falling off the trees,

to the food. Even the street art is different,
with its messages,

layering,and colors.
This is the view from the top of the Austrian hospice where Einav took Mark and I.I met Einav at school while at Longwood, she was in the international program. On the right is the Dome of the Rock which was built in 688-691. I'll repeat that, 688-691. That is Mount Olives on the left in the background. The rooftops in view in the Old City. Einav took us to a special view of the mountains towards Jordan. If you loook under the wire you can see the pink capped mountains. The light here is incredible as the sun is setting and there is so much to see and explore.

Sep 15, 2008

Meadows and memories of Dixter

The first thing you see when entering Great Dixter is the Meadow, where constant change slows down a bit..... just a little bit. The past six months were spent watching what happened here.

This is the front meadow over the course of the 6 months of my time...

March First
Here are the candy colored hues of the crocuses and the narcissus blooms, only a taste of what was to come.

March Thirty First

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

April Seventh
Narcissus pseudonarcissus sleeps and Frittilaria meleagris weeps.

April Twenty First

The purple mottled foliage of Orchis mascula, or the Early-purple Orchid, a native plant to England.

May Sixth

Narcissus poeticus, one of the most beautiful of it's Genus.......

Don't you agree?!This is always the last Narcissus species to bloom.

Hoop petticoat, Narcissus bulbocodium, in a small clump near the walk.

May Twelfth
The meadows are awash in blue with all three Camassia species, C. quamash, C. cusickii, and C. leichtlinii, in bloom now competing mostly with the bright yellow flowers of Ranunculus auricomis.
An American native, Camassia quamash in the meadow.
May Twenty-first
The meadows are still predominately blue and yellow in color with touches of pink. This is due to the 3 Camassia species, Ranunculus auricomis and the lovely orchid, Orchis morio. The beautiful bloom of Orchis morio, the Green-winged orchid, one of the other native orchids of England.The arching head of dock, Rumex acetosa Cammassia quamash, Ranunculus auricomis and Red Clover, Trifolium pratense, make a colorful combination. The meadows are always teeming with insects and life.
June Third
This is the most diverse I have seen the meadow in colors and plants yet. There are yellows (Ranunculus auricomus & Rhinanthus minor 'Hay Strewing'), whites of the ox-eye daisies, , pink, and fuschia/magenta flowers of the orchids, and the tans, browns and oatmeal (is this a real color!?) colors of the grass seedheads, which sway with every passing breeze.
Ox-eye daisy, Leucanthemum vulgare, and Dactylorhiza fuschii, or the Common spotted-orchid in the background. Rhinanthus minor 'Hay Strewing' is my favorite plant in the whole meadow. This plant parasitizes the grasses in the meadow, slowing down their vigor so that other plants can establish themselves . Without this plant, the competition of the grasses might prove too much and choke out the other plants in the meadow. This native to England, has the common name Hay Rattle due to the noise it makes when the wind shakes the pods that hold the seed.
June Ninth
You can notice the meadow slightly starting to go over now.

June Sixteenth
The colors of the meadow seem to have softened a bit. There are the soft purple of the orchid blooms, enhanced by the white petals of the ox-eye daisy set off of just so by the small yellow blooms of Ranunculus auricomis, otherwise known as the meadow buttercup.
June Twenty-third
The dominant color of the meadow now happens to be browns, tans and the many shades between due to all of the grasses that hold their seedheads high.
The lovely disc-like seed pods of Rumex acetosa take on a colorful transparency.

July Seventh

The meadow is full of ripening seed by this point and takes on subtle tones and hues. The purple gray haze is the bloom of Agrostis tenuis, which gives the meadow a soft peaceful feel, against the bright green of the yew hedges.
July Thirty-first
As the meadow continues to go dormant, it displays the many brown and tan shades of another season that will soon come to an end........

August Eleventh

The meadow has started to get cut here. The cuttings then go to other gardens that would like to create a meadow where it is laid on the appropriate area, in hopes of the seed falling into the ground to establish themselves. And here it is freshly cut.

August Nineteenth

Within a few days, the plants were already recovering from being mowed.
September First
The meadow is fully green again and is waiting for the fall crocus to emerge. It was fascinating to see how quickly the meadow changed over the course of time and helped give me a better understanding of how plant communities can work together.

So while watching the meadows at Dixter, I felt it gave me more of an intimate connection with a part of the garden, having noticed all of the subtle details and changes that could've gone unnoticed while on the way down the path towards the house. So to see these lively areas change, in color and texture and grow in height, there was a touch of sadness to see them get cut because I knew my time at Dixter had almost come full circle.
I'll never forget the beautiful house that anchors the whole place, and the changing colors of it's orange tiled roof in the everchanging English light.. Or the many combinations of colors be it as simple as the piercing orange Kniphofia blooms against the soothing blue sky......
or the stock beds with its ever changing symphony and cast of characters...
whether they were more subtle
or dramatic
they kept me watching and involved.

or to be in the exotic garden and feel like a child lost in the jungle while drooling over the many jeweled toned treasures we call flowers......

I won't ever forget..

But time doesn't stay still and the seasons march on, being reminded by the gourds on the compost pile
or the apples ripening on trees

my memories of Great Dixter will be everlasting and to my friends there, it doesn't matter if I met you once, worked with you everyday, bothered you at your computer, or lived across the hall from you...... you all made it that much more amazing and unlike anywhere else i have ever been. Thanks for adopting me into your world of garden eccentrics....... you made my 6 months there worth every second.. thank you so much!