Will it flower?

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I am quietly thrilled with the plant above. “Why?” I hear you ask, “It is but a small orchid with no flower!” “But look at the small shoot that has appeared between the leaves and is growing rapidly upwards – it could be a new flower shoot”.

I have never ever managed to re-flower a Moth Orchid, it’s just one if those challenges I have failed at and the plants generally end up on the compost bin. I stopped bothering buying them as I was so fed up but back in the spring I was tempted to have another go. Surely it can’t be that hard, my aunt has one that never seems to stop flowering and she says she ignores it most of the time.

Then back in May when I visited OurGarden@19 I was reminded that Irene is a whizz with orchids and has quite a display.  She kindly gave me some tips about feeding them regularly and watering and that I should cut the flower stem when the flowers have finished down by 3 nodes.  I have failed with this last instruction as each of the 4 plants I have seem to have finished flowering and within a short period the stems go dry and brittle. Maybe I am leaving it too long and need to cut it down before there are no flowers left.  But I have been feeding the orchids and there have been new leaves on all of them and now this shoot so fingers crossed.

Ornate: A WC to Behold

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In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ornate” I am sharing with you the indulgence that is Helen Dillon’s downstairs WC as I think it fits well with the definition of ornate as “breathtakingly extravagant”.  For the non-obsessive gardeners amongst my readers I should explain that Helen is a well-known garden writer who lives in the suburbs of Dublin.  I blogged about a visit to her garden back in July which I visited as part of a garden tour to Ireland.

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Being an older property, I am guessing Georgian, the downstairs WC is shoe-horned in under the stairs so is a tiny space with a sloping ceiling which means that I had to take close-ups rather than take a photo of the glorious whole.  I should say that Helen was very keen for us all to visit and see this space, in fact we were almost ordered to do so and I know from friends who have visited with other groups that this was not peculiar to our group.  If you can imagine a small downstairs WC with the basic facilities of toilet and small sink and then every bit of the wall and ceiling is covered in shells all in intricate designs then you are half way to imagine this extraordinary creation.  I have to admit that I found it a little intimidating and a little frightening as some of those shells are quite large and sharp-looking!

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The whole creation had been commissioned some years previously and what was even more extraordinary was that one of my fellow tourers recognised the artist who it turned out was a friend of hers – small world.

 

Paradise Gardens: Book Review

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The title of Paradise Gardens is a little misleading if like me you assumed it was another coffee table book that would be full of large glossy pictures of gardens with some text alongside.  Instead this book has a completely different feel.  Although its appearance is of your typical occupant of the coffee table glamour pack when you open it you realise that you are expected to actually engage with the text and as Hercule Poirot would say “exercise your little grey cells”.

Dr Toby Musgrave, demonstrates his academic credentials in this book which brings together the majority of religions and spiritual belief systems in the world, now and past.  The premise of the book is to explore how these beliefs systems draw on nature and in some cases how this then goes on to influence the creation of gardens.

We start with the classical and ancient belief systems: Egypt, Minoan, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome. Each paragraph discusses the basic history of the culture and most importantly how they overlapped demonstrating that the idea that these cultures existed in isolation to be inaccurate.  Musgrave discusses how the overlapping cultures through trade and conflicts shared their beliefs influencing each other.  This is also very clear in the sections on Eastern religions (Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Scholar Gardens, Japan, Zen).  A particularly long section with an abundance of glorious pictures of magical Eastern temples and gardens.

There is also a substantive section on Abrahamic religion which covers the Garden of Eden, medieval gardens, Islam, Renaissance, and ‘Elysium rediscovered’.   For me the last two was disconnected to the theme of the book.  I felt as though the book had strayed into a more landscape history book rather than focussing on religion and spiritual influences. The Elysium section refers to the 18th century landscape movement in England and although the text refers back to the Greece and Roman influences I felt it was a detour.  I was also disappointed that symbolism, particularly in Islamic gardens, wasn’t given more room;  having been to a talk this week on just this subject I know it is fascinating.

The final section on Pantheism and polytheism (I told you that you needed to engage your brain) covers Hindiusm, Northern Paganism, Evergreens, North America and Mesoamerica and New Beliefs.  However, there is no reference in book to the faiths and beliefs associated with the Aborigines, Maori, and people of Africa which seems a significant oversight.

Paradise Gardens is informative and full of not only beautiful images of landscapes and gardens but fascinating objects and art.  There are a number of discreet articles on specific gardens around the world which exemplify a particular faith or belief.  I found the one on The Cloisters Museum in New York, built in the 1930s intriguing; the pictures show the garden to be skilfully planted and constructed and you can almost imagine a monk sitting  and contemplating. Ryoan-ji Temple in Kyoto, Japan shows it to be quite exceptional – truly a place to aspire to visit.

Paradise Gardens is a book to dip into as and when and I am sure you will find many new and fascinating insights.