Blogging 201: Custom Header

I’ve changed my header image to reflect the current season, which seems appropriate for a blog focused on gardening and plants! What do you think? This lovely photo is an autumn view from the rose garden at Dumbarton Oaks.

View from the Rose Garden in Autumn
View from the Rose Garden in Autumn

Saturday Snippet: The Art of Japanese Gardens

Though I do not myself have a Japanese garden, I love them and I have a newly planted grove of Japanese maples. In anticipation of their fall foliage soon, here is an excerpt from The Art of Japanese Gardens: Designing and Making Your Own Peaceful Space, by Herb Gustafson.

The traditional Japanese garden brings to the viewer a vast array of symbolic representations…. The Japanese “niwa” is special because of its double meaning as both “garden” and “place.” It is not merely an artistic arrangement of rocks, trees and water. The very shape of these elements cries out for recognition on a higher plane. We see the combinings of the primitive earthly elements: the air above and the water below. The earth is represented by the skeletal structure of stones protected by the integument of topsoil. Our origin in fire is seen as beacons to our future placed in the stone lanterns to guide us among the “rati”, or path. Our gardens can become a profound representation of the universe as a whole.

Photo: Pacific Horticulture, January 2012.

Fairy House Tour

FairyTale: A True Story (1997)
FairyTale: A True Story (1997)

Judy at New England Garden and Thread casually mentioned in a comment on her latest post that she used to take part in the annual Portsmouth Fairy House Tour. How did I not know about this?? Adding this to my bucket list of things to do when next we visit relatives in NH; will have to time visit accordingly! Apparently this tour is the world’s largest fairy houses event.

What is a fairy house, you may ask? From Tracy Kane at “Fairy Houses are small structures for the fairies and nature’s friends to visit. Sticks, bark, dry grasses, pebbles, shells, feathers, seaweed, pine cones and nuts are just some of the natural materials that can be used. Ranging from simple to intricate ‘Fairy Mansions’, these whimsical habitats are built by children, families, gardeners and nature lovers reflecting their creativity, joy and pride.” Tracy and Barry Kane have written and photographed a charming series of books with ideas for fairy houses, as well as a guidebook for children about making their own. You can find a gallery of their photographs here: Photo Gallery. We had a couple of these books when my children were small and we had a lot of fun with them.

On a related note, one of our favorite movies has been “FairyTale: A True Story.” It is the film based on the actual incident of two girls who were believed to have taken real-life photos of real fairies in Yorkshire, just after World War I (the “Cottingley Fairies”). They became minor celebrities, promoted by the likes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Part of the movie’s story involves elaborate fairy houses built by the deceased, artistic older brother of one of the girls, who died at the age of ten.

My children are no longer interested in fairy houses or fairy tales but maybe, as C.S. Lewis once wrote, maybe someday they will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. I think I’m there.

FairyTale: A True Story
FairyTale: A True Story


A Petersham Nurseries Gallery – a feast of roses & perennials and a closer look at the Cutting Garden

Martin Ogden takes some of the most gorgeous photographs of flowers I have seen. (Plus he shares my love for David Austin’s English Roses …). Enjoy his gallery from Petersham Nurseries!

The Teddington Gardener

I arrived at Petersham Nurseries 45 minutes earlier than necessary with a view to taking a few pictures – and I am a speedy photographer – so here is a little gallery of plants that are both conveniently for sale or at home in the Cutting Garden (a practical resource for so much of the nurseries’ floristry needs as well as a seed-bed for inspiration). I was not disappointed.

After a day of sunshine and rain, and having watered extensively and spending a few hours titivating the roses in particular, a final ten minutes before I headed home to take just a few more pictures. An indulgent gallery featuring some of the most fragrant roses and a whole kaleidoscope of colourful perennials – much to admire and much to take home if you want…

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