Monday, 21 December 2009

Bright Winter Blessings



Today is the Winter Solstice. The day in which we welcome the return of the sun to the northern hemisphere.
Last night I went to my Solstice celebration, which was a truly wonderful night. The room was lit with candles and foliage of pine, ivy, mistletoe, hips and holly adorned the room.
The theme was about being fearless. About putting our plans into practise instead of putting them off through fear. We live in a fearful society with the governments and media fueling our fear but we should be bold, 'what if the worse isn't to happen'!
After my meditations and celebrations, I am now ready to welcome Christmas and the New Year in with a renewed vigour and optimism for the coming year. Another year to make my mark on the visual world!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

A journey with a view

I work in the middle of nowhere on the edge of the Dorset/Hampshire border and I spend my working day in a room without any windows. Now before you get the violins out, let me tell you that the trade off for this, is my journey to work . It takes me through Wimborne which is a lovely market town and as I drive to work early, the Christmas lights are still on in the market square. Holt which is a picturesque village with thatched cottages around a large green and best of all I drive across Mannington Heath. Mannington Heath is quite high up and the views over the heathland in the winter, are spectacular. Last Friday morning the sight which greeted me as I reached the top of the hill, took my breath away. The sun was a ball of flame and the heathland was covered in frost and mist, with the trees in silhouette against the sun. I am no landscape photographer, so wouldn't even attempt to photograph such a scene. I was listening to Genesis (Peter Gabriel without a doubt the greatest asset they had) and this was a moment in which it felt great to be alive! No photograph could ever capture that!

The sun is so important this time of year and I am drawn towards it at every opportunity. My walk along the leafy lane which takes me to the local shops was bathed in beautiful light.



A few leaves are still bravely clinging the trees and the ruby red hips are like jewels shining in the shade of the trees.





I also love the shape and form of the Ivy with their alien shaped bracts and glossy leaves



Next Sunday I will celebrating the winter solstice with my wonderful friend Lorraine Exley http://www.lightawareness.com/therapists/lorraine_exley.htm. I always look forward to this evening of music and meditation. The room is decorated with candles and foliage. It's a wonderful feeling to welcome the sun back to the northern hemisphere and to look forward to the warmth and light it brings with it.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

A sunny Sunday

This morning when I opened the curtains, I couldn't believe my eyes; blue skies and sunshine and on a Sunday! I decided that today there wasn't going to be any decorating or baking, it was going to be a day spent outside.
I haven't ventured down the garden path for a couple of weeks. The last few weekends have just been so wet and not just light showers either, so today was a perfect day for an inspection, especially after the surprise frost of Thursday night/Friday morning.
The Dahlias had, as anticipated, turned to mush, so I chopped them to the ground and I moved a couple of plants into pots, as there really wasn't the room for them (I always plant too close together, not realising how large things grow - no spacial awareness).
I had a lovely surprise waiting for me in one of my veg plots, a lonely marigold, dancing away in the breeze.


Marigold

I trimmed a few plants but I like to leave a few twiggy stems over the winter. The Aster was looking particularly splendid in the sunshine.




Aster

The sun felt quite warm today, despite the wind, so we went to the beach this afternoon. The wind was far stronger than anticipated, whipping up the sand - bracing one would say!


sand dunes



It's good to get out and feel the wind on your face and breath in the air. I can't believe it's nearly Monday again - oh well, soon be Christmas!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

A beautiful surprise

I was very surprised when a beautiful bouquet of flowers was delivered to me at work on Friday. I was convinced they had been delivered to the wrong person but no, my name was on the card.
My week had been horrible, full of stresses from work and sadness from attending a funeral, that by the time Friday had arrived, I had had enough. Even seeing Ricky Gervais, on Thursday night, who was very funny, failed to lift my spirits.











The flowers were of course from Andy xxx and not only do they smell gorgeous but were an absolute pleasure to photograph....

Sunday, 15 November 2009

River Cottage - What a filthy night

I am of course referring to the weather and not the event itself.
On Friday we headed off to west Dorset to a Chilli and Pumpkin party held at River Cottage. The weather couldn't have been worse, with lashing rain and gale force winds coming off the sea. Luckily we had a big bag of Minstrels to keep our spirits up, as we battled our way across the hills to Axminster.

When we arrived, we changed into our wellies and I donned my hat adorned with chillies. We made our way to the tractor and trailer, which carried us through the storm down to the farm and to the party which awaited us, where we were met by a couple of fire jugglers and a glass of lemon punch with a twist of chilli.

The courtyard was a lovely site with stalls lit with strings of lights but as the night wore on the weather took a turn for the worst (almost impossible I know) and those brave enough or daft enough joined Hugh outside with a TV crew, guessing the weight of an enormous pumpkin.



Pumpkin Hoopla



I think most people had gone into the barn for food and shelter



John Wright and Steve Lamb manning a stall with an extremely hot lamb chilli dish

Although outside was wet and windy, inside the barn was warm and cosy and the river cottage chefs served up absolutely delicious food. I had shin of beef served with soy, ginger and noodles. Topped off with roasted pumpkin, and chilli corn bread, served by Hugh. Andy had a pumpkin stew, which sounded equally lovely.



Hugh with a silly hat


Hugh serving roasted pumpkin to Andy

I have been to River Cottage quite a lot this year. It really is a lovely place to visit and the people that work there, put in a lot of effort into making sure that you enjoy your visit. I have met Hugh a couple of times, been interviewed on his television programme and had my photo taken with him and I can honestly say he really comes across as being a lovely caring person. Not only about the environment but also about the people who visit River Cottage.
If you get a chance, go to one of the open days next year. You can find the details on the river cottage website. I for one will be giving it a rest for a little while and give someone else a turn.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Dahlias, Hydrangea and Nigella - for Graham

I picked a bunch of flowers from the garden even though it was starting to get dark, with a view to photograph them early the next morning before heading off for work. I got up extra early only to be disappointed by the natural light falling in my bedroom, where my vase sat and so was unable to photograph them. And worse than that by the time I get home from work it is dark, so I had to wait a week for the next weekend before I could photograph them! Of course they were rather wilted by then but luckily the garden is still producing blooms, even this late in the year.


The vase looks a bit sparse, and I could have probably picked some more but I went outside inappropriately dressed (shorts and t shirt - well the sun was shining) so I was beginning to shiver and needed to dive for cover back indoors.









Dahlias are so beautiful

There are still a few flowers to photograph in the garden but with the overnight temperature tonight dipping to three degrees, I don't think these will last much longer. The Nigella seed heads and Hydrangea flower heads will of course remain until next spring,




Hydrangea



Nigella


This post is dedicated to my friend Graham who passed away yesterday. A fantastic photographer with an amazing eye for colour, shape and texture. He was a man who lived life for the moment with a brilliant wit and a very dry sense of humour all of which will be sadly missed.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

A Surprise in Tesco

About a year ago I did some photography for a design company. They asked me to photograph 3 different flavours of chocolate for the House of Dorchester to appear on their packaging. I had to make the chocolate look scrummy which I did with the aid of my hairdryer. I had to heat the chocolate just enough for it to look glossy but not enough so that it melted. There is a fine line between the glossy look and a gloopy mess but I managed it fine and they were pleased with the results.
Whilst shopping in Tesco last week I saw a box of chocolate from the House of Dorchester in amongst the spices and I said to Andy is that my photography on the box? I had done it so long ago and was under the impression that the chocs were being sold in Waitrose. I went to the sweets isle and sure enough there were the three boxes of chocolates with my photography on the front.

I have to say my favourite flavour is fruit and nut. If you have never tasted chocolate by the House of Dorchester do try, it is rather delicious.
With the clocks going back last week, I come home from work in the dark, so only get to see the garden at the weekend. I still have some flowers in bloom but I think the weather is turning a little colder this week, so they will be coming to an end soon. The Cerinthe Major Purpurascens is looking pretty good at the moment; will it still be flowering next weekend, we are now in November after all!


Sunday, 25 October 2009

Last Warm Rays of the Sun

After a week of wet weather, it was really lovely to get out into the fresh air and enjoy last warm rays of sun today.
I trimmed back the flowers from the lavender but didn't go into the foliage; I thought I would save that job until the Spring.
I had planted some seeds early in the summer in a small patch of spare earth but the climbing beans took too much of the light and the plants didn't take off. After the beans had finished the seedlings soaked up the new light and are now flowering. It's a bit of a dogs dinner as I couldn't reach the seedlings to thin them out but now at the end of the summer, the flowers are looking quite fresh whilst everything else is fading.


Corncockle


Cosmos



Behind the Cosmos


Cosmos bud

With the light so much softer now, it's an ideal time to photograph outside and I couldn't resist tiptoeing through the purple sprouting broccoli to get to the back of the cosmos to capture it.



The raspberries have been absolutely fantastic this year. I have made two batches of jam plus I have some in the freezer to make another lot, when our new kitchen has been installed. They have been fruiting since July and if the frosts keep away I still have more to pick.


Honeysuckle


Dahlia loved by the earwigs

The dahlias and the honeysuckle are still flowering. Looking rather tatty but with all those months ahead of us with very little in the way of flowers to cheer us up, I am enjoying this moment for all its worth.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

End of the season

My project for the NGS is all done and dusted. All CD's have been posted off and I feel very happy with the results. I have had a summer jam packed with photography and although I haven't devoted enough time to growing, I look back on the summer as being very productive.

As the flower garden is enjoying its grand finale with the Dahlias taking centre stage, the Purple Sprouting Broccoli in the vegetable garden is just starting its second act. It survived the attach of the Cabbage White, albeit looking like a doily and is bulking up nicely.




Purple Sprouting Broccoli


Pennisetum




White Hydrangea


Anne Folkard Geranium

I need to cut back the lavender but the last remaining bees are still drinking the nectar, so I haven't the heart. I am worried that I might have left it too late before the frosts so I will do it this weekend and have the fleece at the ready, just in case of frost.
With one more episode of Gardeners' World before the end of the series, the gardening season is nearly over. The light has changed and is softly diffused, perfect for photography.
A couple of weeks ago we headed off down the coast to Portland in Dorset. The light was very bright but I wanted to see how the lighthouse photographed, with a view to going back in the Winter, when the light was subdued and desaturated.


Portland Bill

As the opportunities to photograph the garden diminish over the coming months, my blog will feature more of my photography out of the garden than in the garden but until then I will put my garden to bed for the Winter and capture the smokey hues of the autumnal garden.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Sarah Raven - Perch Hill Farm Open Day

For quite a long time I have admired Sarah Raven and wanted to visit Perch Hill Farm in East Sussex where she has her garden and business. When I read on her website, that she was having an open day I decided, along with my parents, to make the long journey from Dorset to visit (my Dad very kindly volunteered to drive) Perch Hill.
This time of year is the best time for my favourite flower the Dahlia and I wasn't disappointed with the sight which met us when we arrived. Sarah's husband Adam Nicolson was on hand to take the entrance money and the first garden we entered was the Cutting Garden which was very inspirational.



A sea of dahlias

The Cutting Garden is made up of large beds full of a variety of flowers including lots of different types of Dahlias, Cosmos, Gladioli, and an interesting climbing courgette/squash which unfortunately I can't remember the name of.



The willow hurdles add an interesting touch to the beds




Hazel Wigwam




This zingy Gladioli really stands out against the pinks and purples

Between the beds the paths were laid with gravel which made them easy to walk on. It was a very practical area to grow your cut flowers but also a beautiful place to spend time in either working of just sitting and enjoying.



Seating area under a home made arch



Arch with climbing courgette

The day was very relaxed wandering amongst the flowers and vegetables and drinking tea and eating cakes served by her lovely daughters in the glasshouse adjoining the shop.
In the late afternoon, Sarah gave a talk about her work at Perch Hill and answered questions from the audience. An interesting discussion was autumn sowing as opposed to spring sowing and you can find details about this on here website http://www.sarahraven.com/.
The talk was held in a small room with the most gorgeous dappled light and a large open fireplace The room was full of bits and bobs which Sarah uses in her workshops.





Sarah Raven



Side view of the shop and greenhouse where refreshments were served


Inside the greenhouse



This south facing slope is where Sarah grows her veg and is in use 12 months of the year.

Some of my favourite Dahlias












Perch Hill, with its oasthouse, and lovely brick and personal touches, is a very homely and inviting place. Sarah used to live there before moving to nearby Sissinghurst Castle, her husbands family home, before it was given to the National Trust, and hopes to return to Perch Hill Farm sometime in the future. I hope she gets her wish as Perch Hill Farm and the surrounding countryside is a lovely place to visit and I suspect a really enjoyable place to live.
Visit Sarah's website at http://www.sarahraven.com/ where you can find lots of information about growing and cutting, recipes and purchase lovely items for the home.
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