Sunday, 23 March 2014

Mirror face. Pout. Click.

My jaw dropped last week, seeing a lady sitting in the window of a cafĂ©, pouting into her phone, and with a flick of the hair, taking a selfie.  What has happened – since when did taking photos of our ‘best face’ become an acceptable – and public – past-time?  No one actually looks like their mirror self – so is trying to capture it healthy?

This dubious exercise in vanity has been turned on its head with the 'no make-up selfie' going viral on social media.  Thousands of women are taking the ‘challenge’ of posting photos of themselves without make-up, with the hashtag  #beatcancer.  The campaign has raised more than £2 million to date, and the nominations to go bare are flooding Facebook.  The money raised is a good thing – I can’t argue with that.  But in the process, aren’t comments such as “you still look great!” just teetering on the patronising?

One thing’s for sure though.  If cancer were to affect me, I would like to walk into a Maggie’s Centre.  Set up in 1996, there are 14 centres across the country, providing sanctuary for anyone dealing with cancer, for emotional, physical and social support.  The buildings are inspiring, light-filled and protected.  The gardens around them are welcoming and special – and I have long admired Dan Pearson’s landscaping around the Hammersmith centre.  A softly meandering path takes you through naturalistic planting that is a world away from the choking traffic of the nearby road.  The feeling of sanctuary - so clearly at the heart of Maggie's centres - abounded on a walk through its garden last week.

Monday, 10 March 2014

All about contrasts

I am plotting a position outside for this beautiful apple-green Melianthus major - its large leaves have a semi-tropical feel and will be great set against plants with smaller leaves.  Here it is in the greenhouse, against a backdrop of another favourite - the Maidenhair fern.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

A way around it

The last two attempts I've had at filling our Cornish garden with Alliums have failed dismally.  Planting of these summer flowering bulbs is usually an easy, foolproof job to be done in the Autumn.  By early spring they have popped up, full of promise, only to wimper and rot in the excessive rains to come.  So this year I'm experimenting with planting these summer must-haves in pots, so that I can plant them out later. Guaranteed drainage and scope to move them into the greenhouse if it's too wet outside.  Just call it their mobile home.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Not all January blues

A surprising sight, these pelargoniums flowering in a London window box last week - such an unexpected soft pink to be making its appearance in January.

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

A few tight spaces

I've been cooking up some leafy ideas for a friend's flat. First up is a large window box outside the kitchen sink, in full shade, on constant view - it's got to look green and luscious all year round.  No soggy lavender here.

I'm thinking a woodlandy planting of Dryopteris, Libertia and Dicentra.  The fern and Libertia are structurally evergreen, while the delicate Dicentra pops up in Spring, and after its flowers have faded, will remain in lovely fresh green leaf until November. Classy green and whites.

Dryopteris affinis

Libertia grandiflora

Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba'

Next on the hit list: a container tree for the exposed roof terrace.  Since it's not visible from the windows, nor going to be used much in the winter, I lean towards a deciduous tree, whose leaves will be absent during spells of harsh cold winds.  An Acer would be lovely, or perhaps a Birch or Amelanchier.  Whatever variety, I would go with a multi-stemmed form, to act as a green parasol against the city backdrop.

These Domani fibreglass cubes would make a very cool place for the tree to live:
Domani website

Although on a smaller budget (Domani's pots take some saving up), Bright Green do a 'double skin' container that is similar (only up to 50cm though).

Last on the agenda is a wall on the roof terrace seen from the bi-fold doors year round, sheltered, and catching the west sun.  The climbing rose 'Mermaid' flowers on and off all year round, and is semi-evergreen:

This could live in a container, so long as the rose has enough REALLY good, rich soil to put its roots deeply into.  Up with the manure then...