A blog about my photos, my artwork, quotations, ideas, collections, passions, England, authors, handwork of all kinds, rusty bits, buffalo, and architectural detail...for starters. And the occasional rant.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sir Harold Hillier Gardens

One the same day that we visited Mottisfont Abbey we also went to Sir Harold Hillier Gardens in Romsey, just a few miles down the road.  This garden couldn't be more different, and yet we found it equally wonderful.  It covers 180 acres with over 42,000 plants from around the world in themed plantings.  We were particularly attracted by the fact that it was hosting a show of garden art.  There were hundreds of works of art spread out through the gardens - art of all sizes and types, truly something for everyone.
You can get a better look at these pictures on my Flickr site. There are at least a dozen more of the artworks there also.
The lovely lady wading in the pool is the one who got us there as I had seen her on-line.  She was, of course, one of our favorites, as were the big balls of wound vines shown at the bottom.  And speaking of bottoms, who wouldn't love that blue guy standing on his his head.

Some pieces were very organic and would fit nicely in almost anyone's home garden...

Others were of a size that could only be called 'Institutional'.
My favorite was a group of Mad March Hares frolicking through the tall grassy meadow, a perfect example of how perfectly sited each and every work was. 

Don't you just love them?
  An added bonus was the newly hatched group of Moorhens - would they be Moorchicks?  We found them balancing gingerly on the waterlily leaves as mother watched on approvingly.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Mottisfont Abbey Gardens

Recently I've been working with my photos from Mottisfont Abbey and their amazing rose garden.  In 1972, the gardens became the home for the 'National Collection of ancestral species and 19th-century rose cultivars'.  Our visit was mid-June of 2007 which must have been a banner year for roses.  We had been amazed at brilliant rose displays in Winchester City Gardens and Queen Eleanor's Garden at Winchester Castle but we were not prepared for the sheer abundance of blossoms we found at Mottisfont.

Since we were there on a weekday afternoon, the crowd wasn't too big and although I took hundreds of pictures that day (we also visited the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens on the same day) I could easily have taken hundreds more - in fact I wish I had.
As you can see, it wasn't just the roses.  The plantings were brilliant and there was an abundance of display ideas for a multitude of different rose habits.  The gardens have lovely perennial borders as well as plenty of fruit trees.  The wonderful old brick walls are the best backdrops one could wish for.  Can you tell I loved it?  After Sissinghurst, this has to be my best English garden experience ever.

In addition to the gardens, the rest of the grounds were delightful and even the quick tour we took through bits of the house was worth the time.  If you are anywhere in the area, don't miss this National Trust gem, and give yourself the whole day so you don't miss a thing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Nothing Special

As someone who has neither been in love nor had someone in love with me for more years than I care to enumerate...I refuse to think today is anything other than a regular old Monday in February.

(I can't even have 1/2 price post-holiday candy any more so what's the point?)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Super and Not-so-Super

Just a few comments on the game…actually on the production.  The game itself was pretty good, as Super Bowl games go.  Great to have a Super Bowl game that kept you interested til the very end.

For those of us watching on a ‘normal’ sized television:  What idiot thought it was alright to have both teams in yellow pants.  With all the black print on the white shirts and all the white print on the black shirts, watching was visually exhausting on the overhead shots.

This was a football game...sport.  Why did we have to watch thirty minutes of patriotism first, and not one but two poorly done patriotic songs?  Was it a Texas thing?

The team introductions by Sam Elliott were brilliant, as were several other features – the ones that were about football, that is.

There were some wonderful second half ads, but the first half ads were pretty lame.  Makes me wonder, do they pay more for the second half?

I really have nothing good to say about the half-time…pretty much boring.

Friday, February 4, 2011


She was old, tiny, and somewhat stooped, but she was wearing trainers and moved pretty spryly for her age.  As I approached the red light at the intersection, she scurried out to cross in front of me and shot a defensive glance at me.  I was moving very slowly and obviously coming to a stop so I was a bit offended that she would think herself in danger from me.  To my left was a very large Waste Management truck.  I saw the pedestrian light counting down and realized she had jumped into the intersection on the big red “Do Not Walk” hand.  As she passed in front of the truck, he shifted gears, rumbled, and moved about two inches forward. 

The moral of this story is that being old does not mean you can break all the rules.  Of course, no one would run her over, and I’ll never know if it was done on purpose.  But twenty minutes later I am still laughing at the look on her face.

As a post script, at my advanced age I am trying to walk the fine line between breaking a rule for the fun of it and breaking one because I think I am somehow untouchable because of my age.  When your hip hurts and your kids haven’t called for a week, I imagine it is easy to feel entitled…but you’re not.

One more thing, thinking back on it, she looked remarkably like the old woman I watched “sample” at least a third of a pound of cherries at the nearby Farmer’s Market.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Original Scrapbook

If you are at least 50, you might know what I mean when I say scrapbook.  I do not mean the beautifully ornamented and often quite expensive books of family photos that have become the part-time occupation of most mothers and grandmothers.  Although the term is “scrapbooking”, what they wind up with is a beautiful “photo album”

A scrapbook, by definition, is made of scrap.  They were usually made of soft paper (either black or cream colored) and most of the clippings were glued in.  It will come as no surprise that the books with things taped in have not held up very well.  Occasionally, wandering through really musty antique shops you will find a scrapbook.  We found one in Portland from the 1930’s with what were then called pin-up girls and just had to have it.

Looking through it recently I realized it was, for its time, a bit naughtier than I had thought.  Some near-nudes, lots of risqué cartoons, smutty poetry, hand-written comments, and nipples – lots of nipples.  I would love to know something about the young man (he must have been a young man - a boy wouldn’t have access to this material and a man wouldn’t need it) who put this together.  There is a name stamped on the back, but the only thing I could find on the net was someone with the same name on Facebook who included “Jesus” as one of his activities.  It the book did belong to his dad, I don’t think he’d want it back…
Everything was glued into a ledger.

When I was young, I had one with carefully clipped photos from movie magazines.  We didn’t have stars on TV that often and there was no internet, so there were a great many magazines with all the gossip that was as important to us then as it is now.  I was especially fond of Tommy Sands, Tab Hunter and John Saxon. You’ll need to be over 50 to remember them also.

I kept one in Junior High which I still have.  It has a puffy hot pink cover with a teenage girl in a poodle skirt talking on the phone embossed into the cover.  Inside are all the paper bits from dances, student body elections, football & basketball games, newspaper clippings, and anything that would glue in flat.  I look through it about every five years or so and it gets harder and harder to put faces to the names.

Now I am especially fond of Corvids, Puffins, Draft Horses, Wild Roses, Hares, Buffalo, Hollyhocks, Roosters, the Tower Bridge, and Sheep.  I have started scrapbooks for the Tower Bridge and Corvids and I have been saving stuff (newspaper & magazine clippings, greeting cards, etc.) for the others.  Sometimes I think I was born a hundred years too late.