Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Redhouse Castle, walls and daffodils, and honeywort

April 11, 2017

Sometimes you get to places by accident. Recently, we were visiting the Carol Barrett exhibition and there was a huge queue of traffic going into Aberlady (good photos), we headed west, through Longniddry  and ended up at Redhouse Castle (good photos). There is a new garden centre next to the ruin of the castle, which is a late 16th century building originally standing 4 storeys high. The first photo shows the ruin from the edge of the garden centre. It is perhaps not one of the most attractive castles which have survived but, given the technology available in the late 16th century, it is an impressive site.

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Redhouse Castle., East Lothian (Click to enlarge)

The 2nd photo shows the arched entrance into what would once have been an impressive courtyard of the Douglas family who built the original castle. It was acquired by the Laings (good photos) in 1607.

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Entrance to Redhouse Castle, East Lothian

The final photo is a close up of the doorway into the castle. Above the wooden door, on the pediment, can be seen the Laing family coat of arms and the initials MIL for Master John (Ioannes) Laing and RD for his wife Rebecca Dennistoun or Deenistoun. The motto on the lintel is Nisi Dominus Frustra – one translation being without the Lord, all is in vain, although like many Latin mottos, other translations exist. The stonework around the doorways is smooth, unlike the rougher – but more attractive, sandstone of the building itself.

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Doorway into Redhouse Castle, with the Laing family arms

On to stonework which is on a much lesser scale but, as I built most of it myself, remains attractive and has been enhanced by the array of daffodils now in flower above the walls. The first photo is of the first wall which I built with much advice and help from former stonemason Ian Sammels. This remains – unsurprisingly – the most impressive wall.

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The Sammels/Herring all and Spring flowers

The 2nd photo is of the latest – and final(?) stonewall, which I built myself. The mixture of daffodil types – white or yellow petalled – with the different shades of red sandstone, plus the shadows of the bushes behind, make this – I think – a well composed photos.

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The Herring wall with a variety of daffodils

A new plant in my garden is honeywort, given to me by my lifelong friend and fellow blogger Tam Bruce and his wife Sandra. Tam gave me two cuttings from their impressive garden in Edinburgh. This plant, shown below, has the wonderful name of Cerinthe major “Purpurascens”. It is a long established plant which attracts bees – thus its name – and one source quotes Virgil as ” using this plant as an offering to swarming bees in order to entice them into a new hive”.  As the photo shows, the plant has very colourful  tubular bell flowers, and at the moment, the leaves are starting to change colour and will develop into brilliant blue leaves or, more precisely, bracts which are defined as “leaf like structures”. So there is more to come from this plant, which seeds itself vigorously and has to be controlled. Tam and I had some fun in email exchanges, suggesting a modern update of the Beatles’ song Honey Pie, with a new line of “Honeywort, you are driving me crazy..”. I like the shadow of the plant against the stone and its intriguing shapes.

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Honeywort in my garden

 

M C Escher, Mark Doty and garden shapes

September 25, 2015

A fascinating programme on TV this week, with Roger Penrose examining the work of one of his heroes, the artist/designer M C Escher. In the programme, which is only available to UK viewers on IPlayer. However, for those of you outside the UK, there are 4 clips from the programme (I’m hoping that you can access these). The most interesting to me was Ascending and Descending aka The never-ending staircase. When you look at this print (see below), Penrose notes that “the monks appear to be going nowhere” as the stairs are endless. Escher also produced fascinating tessellations and in another clip, Penrose points out how Escher’s design replicates the angels and devils in the print. For Penrose, this echoes his own mathematical studies of shapes and for the lay person, it presents a fascinating series of replications which seem to blend into each other. An exhibition of Escher’s work is currently on (but ends this weekend) at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Escher's Ascending and Descending (Posted in accordance with fair use principles)

Escher’s Ascending and Descending (Posted in accordance with fair use principles)

The latest Poetry Book Society Choice is Deep Lane by the American poet Mark Doty. These are very personal poems and the poet covers a wide range of topics but I’m enjoying the nature-related poems best so far. In one of the seven poems entitled Deep Lane “Later a storm blows down the moraine/ crisp and depth-charged with ozone and exhilaration” and continues further on “leaves circling in air like the great curtain of bubbles/blown by the humpback to encircle the delicious schools”. In King of Fire Island, the poet tells of a deer which comes to their garden and has lost the hoof of one leg. “A hoof’s a deft accomplishment,/ that hard-sheened shoe of blue-black carbon”.

Having seen the Penrose programme and having taken more photos in the garden, I became more aware of the shapes in the photos. In the first photo, the edges of the gladiolus flower are fan-like or like the edges of a scallop shell.

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

In the 2nd photo, the bee’s wings have several different shapes within the overall shape of the wings, which look as if they might have been stuck on as an addition maybe for a fancy dress party.

Bee close up

Bee close up

In the 3rd photo, the petals of the begonia flower do seem to be replicated, as in Escher’s work but they don’t appear to have symmetricality of Escher’s angels, although there does seem to be some symmetry in the 4th photo – a close up of a hydrangea head.

Begonia flower

Begonia flower

Hydrangea head

Hydrangea head

NT Live, Kevin Powers and summer garden

July 23, 2014

We went to the Brunton Theatre last week for a new theatre experience. The National Theatre has organised live screenings of plays from London, in a new venture called NT Live. This means that people around the country can see live plays without having to go to London. The live screenings are, of course, in a film/TV format i.e. while you see the whole stage at first and from time to time, you also get close-up views of the main characters. My own experience was that I had been to see a live theatre production, as you soon forget that you are watching a filmed version of the play. The play was Skylight by David Hare (good interview on this link). The 2 main characters were played by Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan and they gave an enthralling performance in a play about class, money, family, relationships and economics. David Hare’s play was first performed in 1995 but is still relevant today, given the extension of inequalities in UK society in the 21st century. It has sparkling dialogue between ex-lovers Nighy and Mulligan and is also very funny. We’ll be going back for more NT Live.

The latest Poetry Book Society Choice is Kevin Powers’ Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting. The author is a former US soldier who served in Iraq who wrote the best-selling novel Yellow Birds which is about a soldier’s experience before, during and after the war in Iraq. Powers’ poetry is often very moving, as in the title poem – “I tell her I love her like not killing/ or ten minutes of sleep/ beneath the low rooftop wall/on which my rifle rests”. Powers has some telling lines, as in Improvised Explosive Device “If this poem had wires/ coming out of it, you would not read it”. Many of the poems interweave the author’s thoughts on life and examples of what happens in war. His mother also features in many of the poems and there are affectionate descriptions of his mother e.g. not willing to have here photo taken – “I was raised by a woman/whose face was the palm of a hand”. I’m only half way through this impressive collection, which is chilling at times but also hopeful.

It now being the last week of July, my garden is showing the amazing fecundity of plants which not long ago were seeds, seedlings, and short stemmed strugglers, then mature greenery, and full flowering abundance decorates the garden. The photos below show a hebe which has come into its own this year; a flower from a burgeoning begonia; a much more subtle geranium flower; and 2 shots of tubs on our decking at the back of the house.

 

Hebe in full flower

Hebe in full flower

Begonia flower

Begonia flower

Geranium flower

Geranium flower

Flowering tubs on the decking

Flowering tubs on the decking

Flowering tubs on the decking

Flowering tubs on the decking