Super Red, Green, and Gold; Green and Gorgeous; Chelsea and Hay.

In the third week of May, I dropped Fiona off at the station for her trip to London to visit The Chelsea Flower Show for the first time. And how different it was in its centenary year, with planting challenges and an unfamiliar flowering palette as the country remains still chilled by the errant jet stream’s induced weather effects. Will this become the norm for late May in years to come?SDIM0668 (2)Certainly, Mays were warmer when the famous English gardener of the first part of the C20th Edward Augustus (Gussie) Bowles made his memorable suggestion that if he were granted 3 wishes, one would be to stop the clock on a warm afternoon in late May. I thought that I would try to find the exact quote on line. But failed. However almost as good and appropriate was another of his quotes:

“One of the greatest virtues of gardening is this perpetual renewal of youth and spring, of promise of flower and fruit that can always be read in the open book of the garden, by those with an eye to see, and a mind to understand.
Researching Bowles’ life a bit more, I discovered that in spite of having only one functioning eye, and the tragic loss of both brother and sister from TB whilst he was studying at Cambridge, he became an accomplished plant illustrator and artist, as well as a significant self taught gardener, horticulturalist and plant collector and breeder. Scanning the lists of plants which bear his name, or were named by him, I found that we already grow several in our garden. Snowdrop ‘Augustus’, Crocus ‘Snow Bunting’, Erysimum ‘Bowles Mauve’ and Bowles’ Golden Sedge. How’s a list like that for a great legacy?SDIM2420 (2)(Erysimum ‘Bowles’ Mauve’).
Interestingly he was also a keen entomologist, and I wonder whether having his eyes tuned in to the smaller details of form, colour and pattern, which would have developed from this insect interest, enabled him to spot the Golden Sedge amongst the mass of other similar vegetation, where he found it, in Wicken Fen.SDIM0462 (2)
In our garden it’s now going through its annual explosion of early season growth when the golden leaves extend and the fascinating flower heads shoot skywards, starting off black, and soon opening to ochre, pollen covered lances. A striking feature in our terrace garden, but did it wow the Chelsea hordes? Fiona can’t remember seeing it there.SDIM0435 (2)SDIM0426 (2)
What she did capture, by having the photographer’s knack of being in the right place at the right time, was the jubilation on the Trailfinder’s Australian garden site as the awards for the Best Garden In the Show were handed out.IMG_8229 (2) IMG_8230 (2)
Our local National Botanic Garden of Wales sponsored the ‘Get Well Soon’ garden which picked up a well deserved Silver-Gilt medal. Just rewards for their first visit to Chelsea.IMG_8322 (2) There were masses of flowers in the Grand Pavilion.IMG_8305 (2)(Thanks to Fiona for all these Chelsea pics).
And a hatch of new rusty dragonflies in the garden coincided with her return home.SDIM0559 (2)SDIM0606 (2)
Back home, even more striking than the golden sedge, is the explosion of red that justifies the naming of Pieris ‘Forest Flame’.
Last year it was a mass of bumblebee attracting nectar scented flowers. This year there are almost no flowers, and so the bumblebees are visiting the equally nectar rich creamy flowers of our male ‘Skimmia ‘Kew Green’ instead. The female forms don’t seem to have quite as good an appeal, to our bumbles.
Lying on my back to get an image of the Pieris display against the rich blue sky, seemed to heighten the intensity of its fiery new foliage, which will quickly change to almost milky green/white within just a few days.SDIM0479 (2)I’d taken the trouble on Saturday to check out what the time the moon would rise on Sunday, since there was a lovely nearly full moon on Saturday evening. And much to my surprise discovered that this full moon, on May 25th, was termed a supermoon, since it would appear larger than normal, since the moon was slightly closer than usual to the earth.
I allowed an extra few minutes for the moon to rise above the Black Mountains, which obscure the level horizon here, yet was still disappointed to see nothing but murky deep blue sky to the South, some 20 minutes after the schedules ‘rise time’. A bit later I thought I’d have a final look before heading for bed, and just caught the first signs of it sneaking over the hill’s crown. Grabbing the Camcorder, I was able to film the slow ascent of what turned out to be a glorious blood orange-red globe, morphing into more of a golden hue as it climbed higher into the blackening sky…05-25-2013_210550(1) (2)05-25-2013_211738 (2)
If all goes well, thanks to help above and beyond the call of duty from Kevin, I hope to link to a You Tube video of this, by clicking here
If you want some other lovely images of what this event looked like around the world, Click here, for the Earth/Sky/Space website. 
As the garden exploded into fifty shades of green under a warm sun on Sunday, we made time to sit, albeit briefly, in our rusty rockers as the sun slipped behind our backs, and cast lengthening shadows over this green dominated vista.SDIM0489 (2)And the garden looks so lovely right now that I shall post an array of images of it in its green and gorgeous state.SDIM0678 (2)SDIM0682 (2)SDIM0445 (2)SDIM0564 (2)SDIM0623 (2)SDIM0626 (2)SDIM0633 (2)SDIM0635 (2)SDIM0703 (2)SDIM0706 (2)SDIM0704 (2)SDIM0622 (2)SDIM0666 (2)SDIM0561 (2) And leave this as a thread hanging in the air, since tomorrow we head off to The Hay Literary and Arts Festival, again for the first time.
Much to my surprise and delight we’ve made it into the final top 3 of the competition to find Britain’s Best Green and Gorgeous Garden, jointly organised by The English Garden Magazine and Wiggly Wigglers. So, we’ve been invited to Hay to discover who is awarded the top prize.
(Frankly just making it to this stage has been a huge encouragement for me, so we plan on enjoying a rare treat away from the slog of the garden, camera and keyboard).
The competition involved just writing about, and photographing our plot and aspects of its eco-slant over the last few months. And whilst this competition has now run its course, I’m really pleased to still have this, my main blog to return to. To observe, research and record.
(Addendum in a 2020 post edit – particularly since all of my green and gorgeous blog posts have disappeared, the domain name having, apparently, been sold to a commercial bedding nursery and our blog posts binned, with no discussion with us, and thus no opportunity for us to save them).
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Perhaps this is an appropriately literary moment to excuse me quoting a few far more worthy writers than I who, over the years, have mused on what motivates the garden maker, and what a garden becomes. These words seem to have caught a little of what I feel as a motivation and reward for this self imposed toil. Rather like the fleeting unfurling of fern fronds, caught for posterity by the camera’s lens, some of these nuggets have survived long after the mind and hand that conjured them has moved on, because they capture some of the essential essence of garden making:
“A garden is a love song, a duet between
a human being and mother nature” – Jeff Cox.
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“A garden is a delight to the eye and a solace for the soul” – Sadi

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“People are turning to their gardens not to consume but to actively create, not to escape from reality but to observe it closely.  In doing this they experience the connectedness of creation and the profoundest sources of being. That the world we live in and the activity of making it are one seamless whole is something that we may occasionally glimpse.  In the garden, we know” – Carol Williams
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“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives” – Gertrude Jekyll

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“Gardens are not created or made, they unfold, spiralling open like the silk petals of an evening primrose flower to reveal the ground plot of the mind and heart of the gardener and the good earth” – Wendy Johnson
“Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eyes level with her smallest leaf, and take an insects view of its plain” – Thoreau
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Thanks to the “essentials of gardening” for these quotes. Click here for link.
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10 thoughts on “Super Red, Green, and Gold; Green and Gorgeous; Chelsea and Hay.

    • Hello Nika,
      Thanks for the comment. The colours were really lovely – if I can get the video uploaded sometime, I’ll let you know, because there was beautiful dusktime robin song, as the orange red moon rose – by the time the moon was golden, the birds had called it a day…
      Best wishes

    • Hello Nika,
      I haven’t yet worked out how to get the video embedded in the blog, but I do now, thanks to Kevin uploading the clips for me miles away in Surrey (our satellite connection won’t do it here), have a clip of the moonrise and birdsong on our new You Tube channel. Which you can find here….

      BW Julian

      • Thank you. I too am technologically challenged and also to rely upon my children or friends for help. I will check out the video this morning. I have been gardening this week (in addition to other projects) and your blog is a constant inspiration.

    • Hello Wendy,
      Glad you like the blue poppies. They are gorgeous. (I wonder if there is a green poppy anywhere??) They’re getting better every day/year. I think its a case of growing other people’s weeds… even if they are from the Himalaya, they obviously feel at home here, I’m sure there’ll be more pics in due course..

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