Monday, June 30, 2014


Here's a breath of fresh air in the Lindbergh Terminal, F concourse restrooms.  

Spotting this mosaic by reclaimed materials artist Michael Sweere provided a nice distraction from the travel frustrations du jour.

Under a shades-of-pale-blue tile sky...

porcelain plates become billowy clouds.

The clouds cast a dark tile shadow across sunlit, lighter tile, Midwestern fields, forests, and lakes.

And in the lav? A cleverly designed aviation-appropriate drain detail.

Guess what happens when you take a photo under a motion sensor water faucet?

Yup. Clean camera. Bad words. 

And another use for the amazing Dyson Airblade.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Regal Rhodies

How could we not take time out from our Day 4 walk to enter the gardens of Caerhays Castle at the peak of the rhododendron bloom?

The flowers were practically begging us to enter.

Flowers, so many flowers. So many photos of flowers.

Garden gift shops are the best and not at all  tempting what with customs and carry-on regulations as they are.

Where there were not forests of rhodies there were seas of wild garlic and bluebells.

Rhody's kissing cousins azalea were there too.

Someone who saw this photo thought the British were so formal that they had named this specific plant Lady Alice Fitzwilliam
No, not just her, but all of her kind.

The castle had rhododendron ...

in shapes and colors we didn't imagine possible.

The foliage of this azalea was a surprise too.

Magnolia month was winding down, but we caught its tail end.

At the height of the garden we could see across the castle lake to the sea and coastal path beyond.

Which reminded us that we had many more hours of walking ahead after our lovely interlude in an enchanted garden.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Floral Notes with Undertones of Black Ant

We try so hard not to pick a wine for its label....but sometimes we just cannot resist the power of a beautiful design. And generally when it comes to good design, if there is personal, sentimental meaning to it, whatever it is, a minimum of three, of whatever it is seem to end up in the shopping cart. Add a clearance price tag and the number could easily double. Twice the bargain, right?

So, wine with a wonderful heritage peony on the front. At Target. On sale. Just when we are wishing for the peonies to pop open. 'Nuff said.

And it was good. 

Very little information is out there about Heirbloom. This seems to be the only wine they produce. Mysterious, but not a deal breaker. It has a good rating, and it makes a perfect vase for a few heritage peonies that could have been models for the featured bloom.

And did we say that it was good?

Strolling alleys on the West Hill you will see this old fashioned, highly scented peony variety over many back fences. There is a long tradition of plant sharing between neighbors. Peonies come from gardens across allies which probably came from gardens across the streets in front of those houses. Plants that probably originated on family farms hopscotch from block to block all over town. 

These very traditional, probably French in origin, pink peonies came from Milly across the street. Another deep red variety was passed on by a neighbor whose back wouldn't allow her to garden anymore, and the magenta doubles along the alley came from a young neighbor who thought them too blowsy and ousted them in favor of the current trend toward native forbs and sedges. No judging here, blowsy, or prim and staid, all are welcome. 

If you are lucky enough to inherit peonies you are lucky enough, but if you must buy them, and want the heavenly scent they are known for, do your homework. Not all peonies are equally blessed in attributes such as scent, longevity of blossom, sturdiness of stem, and time of bloom.

If your requirements are few and this old standard variety appeals to you, we just might have a root or two to share. Perhaps we could discuss terms of peony adoption over a glass of wine. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Stockholm Gardens

Have you been to Stockholm lately? No, not that Stockholm. This one
The one you don't need a passport to get to that is also the home of Stockholm Gardens.

A garden club field trip took us there. We took a leisurely stroll around the grounds and made the acquaintance of these beauties.

We were tempted to rush the season and buy a bouquet to go. We had traveled from zone 3 to zone 4 you see. But sense prevailed, helped by the image of an ant invasion in the car, and we managed to delay gratification.

Big rains a few days ago and true summer heat have pushed our personal peonies into a profusion of pretty pinkness. Come by if you need a few.  Ants included!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Little Paeonia

Back to our own backyard for a quick peek at the ever flamboyant Scarlet O'Hara peony ensconced in, not draperies, but a mantle of Blue Muffin Viburnum foliage.

Could you tell we were just dying to use that title?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Barrows on Parade

We hardly ever use photos that aren't our own. But we borrowed these because we really wanted you to see this whimsical sight that we saw at Heathrow as we ran from a shuttle, that brought us from a plane, to a bus that would take us to a train, that would take us to a taxi, that would take us to the starting point of our Adventure in Cornwall.

It was very tempting to stop and gawk, but for once we disregarded our impulse and kept to the plan. Good thing too! The bus came right on time just minutes after we figured out which was the correct stop for our destination. Missing it would have totally thrown off our carefully timed all day planes, trains and automobiles journey.

A wonderful use of the internet is looking things up after you see or experience them.

For those of you wondering what the multi-coloured Heathrow wheelbarrows are all about.  #gardening #art #london

Creating blog posts is a great way to review, learn more about, and document events, people, places and quizzical things briefly encountered.  

Voila! More photos and a bit of explanation of this colorful installation here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Stile Style

Public footpaths in England go through fields and forests and anyone can walk on them. There is an etiquette to it however. Dogs and humans are asked to stay on the path, close gates, and  not "worry the sheep". Especially during lambing time.

To allow people to pass through fences between properties while keeping animals where they belong stiles in many styles, or gates are employed.

Here is a stile that we found particularly charming. How old might this be?

Cows cannot make it to the next pasture through this one, but sheep, or lambs at least, would have no problem clambering up and over. To keep them from straying there is often a kissing gate that requires a two step process to get through. Even a very clever sheep would probably only be able to figure out step one.

Each time we came to a stile we could not help silently reciting this old nursery rhyme:

Leg over leg, 
As the dog went to Dover;
When he came to a stile
Jump! He went over.

While researching the exact words of the rhyme we found some "interesting" sites. This man with his little friend is one. This rather dark history of nursery rhymes is another.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Day 3 Surf and Turf

Another beautiful day in Cornwall. 
This one started with a ferry from St. Mawes across the Percuel River to the beginning of the path.

Being land lubbers we don't know nuthin' about tides, spring tides in particular. So we dawdled our way down to the docks and almost missed the last ferry before a very low tide which would have made it impossible to pull up to this slippery landing.

Back on the coastal path we passed through an ancient church yard.

Past some picturesque bee boxes.

And across another pasture where we cut a wide berth around Elsie and friends.

From the field we could see where we had come from the day before. That is Falmouth in the distance.

On the next point there was a lighthouse and a bird hide. And more cliffs and beaches of course.

 The plant in the foreground is the ubiquitous to Cornish crags sea thrift. Many of us try to grow it here with little luck. Which doesn't keep us from buying and trying it again and again. 

Eyes and feet on the path please.

It is a good idea to stop completely before taking in the scenery and taking photos of it. We were told that they lose about one tourist a week during the high season in Cornwall. Apparently youth, cliffs, high tides and alcohol are especially bad combinations.

We lost the path at one point, but got to see about a half mile of this interesting stacked slate wall as we backtracked to our route.

Our target for lunch was a small snack shack on a beach. But which beach? There was one around every point. 

Finally we rounded a bend and found The Hidden Hut. If only we had remembered the name, we wouldn't have wondered why it was so hard to find. We had the most delicious lamb curry, and onion and cheese Cornish pasty ever washed down with elder flower bubbly, and a good old Coca Cola.

Then back to the path with new energy and on to Jago Cottage and an evening adventure.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Gunnera Get Back to the Garden

One of the most amazing plants you will ever see is gunnera manicata.

Otherwise known as giant rhubarb.

It is native to Brazil and Chile, but it seems to thrive in the temperate climes of southern England.

When we viewed this plantation at Trebah the plants were still emerging after having died completely back in the winter.

Gunnera likes its feet wet. It was especially fresh and green on this very rainy day. 

The leaves start like this. (Looks like a creepy green monkey paw to us.)

Start to unfurl.


And as our beautiful assistant is demonstrating, they become gigantic in no time.

The leaves can easily reach  6 feet across and 10 feet tall.

One U.S. seed company is cleverly advertising the plants as dinosaur food.

We can get behind that vision. 

If you don't want to wait for seeds to sprout, your own plantation can start right here with a small purchase from the garden gift shop. 

Plant and then stand back!