• Sarah Berndhart Peony

    The best Paeony this year (for us in Tipperty) is Sarah Bernhardt. It is a pink double bloom Paeonia lactiflora
    This seems to be one of the most common paeonies for sale in the UK. Every garden centre and mail-order place has Sarah Bernhardt for sale and it was one of the three plants in the discounted paeony collections I bought from J Parker along with Shitrley Temple a white double Paeony and Karl Rosenfield a double red. I don't think I would be far out in saying that these three are the most widely available paeonies in the UK at the moment. And I'm not surprised - it does really well after a mild winter and has survived the worst winter we have had for forty years. If we don't get a one hundred winter with twenty foot of snow on the ground for three months then I expect this paeony to keep on for twenty or more years. What a great investment that plant has proved to be.

    9th July 2014 026

    Below is a description from the mail order company Crocus.
    Position: full sun or partial shade
    Soil: fertile, moisture-retentive yet well-drained
    Rate of growth: average
    Flowering period: June to July
    Flower colour: pink
    Other features: ideal as cut flowers
    Hardiness: fully hardy

    Enormous, rose pink, fragrant, double summer flowers and mid green leaves. This magnificent, late-flowering, pale pink peony has been popular since the Edwardian era. To support the large flowers stake in spring using bamboo canes or metal link stakes. An excellent specimen plant for a partially sunny border.

    Garden care: Deadhead after flowering. In early spring apply a balanced slow-release fertiliser


    9th July 2014 028

    9th July 2014 029

    The flower has been popular since Edwardian times - that is from 1901 (when Queen Victoria died) to 1910 When Edward VII died (maybe up to 1914 when WW1 started) - so 100 years ago. This, for Britain, was a time of peace, prosperity and empire and one of the first periods of celebrity culture. That's how I knew the name Sarah Bernhardt - the Divine Sarah - she was one of the very first superstar celebrities spanning the late Victorian era, the Edwardian and the start of records and movies, the first world war and after before dying in 1923. She spent the last 8 years of her life with a wooden leg but that didn't stop her acting on stage or screen. Her final film was actually made on her death bed, almost. What a gal.
    The wooden leg comes up in trivia quizzes occasionally and that is how I knew the name; that and the name "The Divine Sarah." It has a great ring to it and the nickname still resonates a hundred years later. Now that is some powerful marketing.


    9th July 2014 031

  • Good Year For The Roses

    After yesterday's post about the peonies and the other flowers then this was the obvious song to be going through my head today... and it was. George Jones (or Elvis Costello) singing "Good Year For The Roses". A great country song - one of the saddest ones around.
    And below are a few of our roses out in the garden yesterday.

    9th July 2014 044
    9th July 2014 034
    9th July 2014 054

  • More Paeony Power


    Been a good year for the paeonies (and for the roses too). After three years in the ground we are finally getting a good range of paeonies coming up. Above (and below) is a fine example of Shirley Temple.


    We have also had a good display of the pink Peony "Sarah Berndhart" - big flowers well over 6 inches in diameter. The mild winter has been great for the paeonis and also for the roses.


    When I left Tipperty at the start of June we were struggling to see any flowers beyond the end of the daffodils. Despite the mild winter here everything seemed to be coming up late. That was because the temperature rarely got above 15oC (about 60oF)for the first half of the year.
    Even now in early July we have rarely breached 20oC (78F) in Tipperty. This may be a dry and sunny year for us but it certainly hasn't been a warm year yet.

    Anyhow now all the early summer/late spring flowers are coming at once - we've paeonies shown above, snapdragons (the third year from the same plants), and poppies aplenty (annuals but now self seeding and thriving wherever the rabbits can't get to them).
    Jiurie is very happy with all the flowers and many of our Skype flowers revolve around Jiurie showing me the latest, greatest flowers. I was very envious while offshore but now I, too , have sharing the love.


  • Epcot Japan


    Following from yesterday's cycad: I saw some very nice cycads and conifers in Epcot at the Japan area.
    Epcot is a park where there are lot of mini areas supposed to represent about a dozen different countries. These are supposed to be representative areas and do have classic regional items for sale e.g. Twinings tea in the UK area, Chinese vases in the China area and Masks in the Japan area. The shop was similar to a highend Tokyo tourist department store in the Ginza - it was okay.
    Around the mini area were several fine conifers and cycads which I quickly snapped.
    The conifer above had the classic trimmed topiary look that we all associate with Tokyo. It was a nice manicure job
    DSCF0768 edit
    above are the lush cycads. These are some of the finest I have seen - I wonder if they are planted there or if they can pull up some pots and wheel them in and out when they look a bit tatty? I wonder if they can do that to the trees as well? I wouldn't put it past them although some of the trees are huge, full sized mature trees.

    The conifer above was a most interesting tree. It shows well the fractal nature of tree development - let me quote... okay let me copy unreservedly:
    Trees, fractals[edit]
    Fractals are infinitely self-similar, iterated mathematical constructs having fractal dimensions.[14][32][33] Infinite iteration is not possible in nature so all 'fractal' patterns are only approximate. For example, the leaves of ferns and umbellifers (Apiaceae) are only self-similar (pinnate) to 2, 3 or 4 levels. Fern-like growth patterns occur in plants and in animals including bryozoa, corals, hydrozoa like the air fern, Sertularia argentea, and in non-living things, notably electrical discharges. Lindenmayer system fractals can model different patterns of tree growth by varying a small number of parameters including branching angle, distance between nodes or branch points (internode length), and number of branches per branch point.[13]
    Fractal-like patterns occur widely in nature, in phenomena as diverse as clouds, river networks, geologic fault lines, mountains, coastlines,[14] animal coloration, snow flakes,[34] crystals,[35] blood vessel branching,[36] and ocean waves.[37]

    In simpler words... the same patterns are repeated at different scales.As tyou drill down the patters look similar.
    Long trunk with fringe of branches.
    long branch with fringe of twigs,
    long twigs with fringe of leaves.
    In some trees you then have fern like leaves that show finges of leaflets and then leaflets have leaflet... lets. and so on. This conifer shows those levels well. It kooks very like a Chilean pine - a monkey puzzle tree - but with smaller needles and naked branches.
    In the midst of the artifice and simulations this tree gave me something natural to look at and think about.

    DSCF0766 edit

  • Disney matter


    Last month we spent a week at Disney World in Florida - not my first choice of holiday but I enjoyed it and I'm glad that I've been at last. While there I took a few photos (though not too many) of the highly manicured gardens and the occasional picture of the local vegetation . The place is basically a converted swamp in the semi-tropical depths of Florida.

    Today we have three photos from the Animal kingdom. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disney%27s_Animal_Kingdom

    Above is the Tree of life - a sculpted 145-foot-tall (44 m), 50-foot-wide (15 m) artificial tree.

    The leaves are a very plastic green and the trunk is all shaped into animal shapes - therefore it is the tree of life.



    The most interesting plant I saw was just outside the entrance to Dinoland.
    You can see a large male cone. It was at least 60cm long and very bulky. It was the most impressive cycad cone I have seen. I'm not sure if this is a local native cycad or one of the many that has been planted around the various parks.

  • Jardin Majorelle - Marrakech - some more pictures and a few comments.

    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh

    Just the pictures, maam, just the pictures - a few pictures left over of the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh, Morocco.

    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh
    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh

    The Majorelle Garden, on Avenue Yacoub el Mansour, was at one time the home of the landscape painter Jacques Majorelle. Famed designer Yves Saint Laurent bought and restored the property, which features a stele erected in his memory, and the Museum of Islamic Art, which is housed in a dark blue building.[87] The garden, open to the public since 1947, has a large collection of plants from five continents including cacti, palms and bamboo.
    Above are some of the "love" prints which Yvs Saint Laurent sent out as Christmas cards to customers and friends. There is a display room with around 30 of these pictures.

    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh
    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh

    This is me in front of one of the several water features that is painted up in Majorelle blue.

    "In 1924 the French artist Jacques Majorelleconstructed his largest art work, the Majorelle Gardenin MarrakechMorocco, and painted the garden walls, fountains, features and villa this very intense shade of blue, for which he trademarked the name Majorelle Blue.[1] He had noticed the colour in Moroccan tiles, in Berber burnouses, and around the windows of buildings such as kasbahs and native adobe homes.[2]

    SUPPLIERS Bristol Paints, a company supplying the film and television industry, sell a paint which matches this colour closely."

    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh
    Majorelle Gardens, MarrakeshMajorelle Gardens, Marrakesh

    And finally the date palms - Marrakesh is very proud of the 10,000 date palms that originally covered the oasis in the desert. 
    They are trying to reestablish some of the groves. Most have been hacked down for housing - the same problem found all over the world - housing before environmant then go back and try to improve the environment afterwards.
    The date palm has a fascinating history and is one of the oldest cultivated foods.

    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh

  • Familiar plants in an unfamiliar place.

    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh

    In the Jardin Majorelle in Marrakesh I found only one flower that we had at home in NE Scotland - and I was amazed to find even that one considering the distance and difference in climate. Round a corner, behind a tree, hidden away was the plant above. Or did I?

    The leaves are totally, totally different.
    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh

    Do you know what it is yet?
    The flowers are identical to Acanthus flowers aka Bear's breeches.



    I am fairly certain that the plant in Marrakesh is Acanthus Mollis.
    "Acanthus mollis, commonly known as bear's breeches, bearsfoot or oyster plant, is a herbaceous perennial plant with an underground rhizome in the genus Acanthus. It is regarded as an invasive species in some jurisdictions.... The leaves of this plant are generally considered by historians to have been the design inspiration for the Corinthian order capitals of Greco-Roman architecture."

    The plant we have in Aberdeen is Acanthus spinosus which is much more spiny and so more rabbit resistant. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acanthus_spinosus

    However I think that our exposed microclimate is near the edge of the distribution envelope for Acanthus. We had a good plant last year (see the post connected to below) but I haven't seen it come out again this year after a very mild winter. Other Mediterranean plants also struggle here - there are only a couple of lavenders struggling in our garden and rosemary rarely survives more than a year or so.

    Lavender does okay up here in the center of cities where it is warmer and where they are protected from the wind. Anywho - bear's breeches in Tipperty? - the jury is still out.


  • Jardin Majorelle - Marrakech

    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh

    Ah - another week, another country, another garden.
    I had to struggle around Marrakesh for a week - a work thing - in a luxury hotel with all food and drink paid - a hard life but someone has to do it.

    We had a choice of half day excursions as a way to break up the lovey-doveyness of the presentations and I elected to go to the Jardin Majorelle.


    Majorelle Garden
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The Majorelle Garden (Arabic: حديقة ماجوريل‎) is a twelve-acre botanical garden and artist's landscape garden in Marrakech, Morocco. It was designed by the expatriate French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s and 1930s, during the colonial period when Morocco was a protectorate of France.
    Contents [hide]
    1 History
    2 Yves Saint-Laurent
    3 Islamic Art Museum
    4 Notes
    5 External links
    Majorelle was the son of the Art Nouveau ébéniste of Nancy, Louis Majorelle. Though Majorelle's gentlemanly orientalist watercolors are largely forgotten today (many are preserved in the villa's collection), the gardens he created is his creative masterpiece. The special shade of bold cobalt blue which he used extensively in the garden and its buildings is named after him, bleu Majorelle—Majorelle Blue.
    The garden hosts more than 15 bird species that are endemic to North Africa. It has many fountains, and a notable collection of cacti.
    Yves Saint-Laurent[edit]
    The garden has been open to the public since 1947. Since 1980 the garden has been owned by Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé.
    After Yves Saint Laurent died in 2008 his ashes were scattered in the Majorelle Garden.
    Islamic Art Museum[edit]
    The garden also houses the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech, whose collection includes North African textiles from Saint-Laurent's personal collection as well as ceramics, jewelry, and paintings by Majorelle.

    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh

    The whole site is 3 hectares but only 1 hectare is open to the paying public (not that we had to pay) but it was busy wee place probably because it is very shady so cool while most of Marrakesh is hot, hot, hot in the afternoon. A large grove of Bamboo greets the visitor as they arrive and it is sufficiently shady and the path screened enough that you are on your own occasionally and the garden looks a lot bigger than it really is.
    A lot of people are so screened that they take the chance to tag the bamboo - I wonder if the "bam" part refers to the people who carve their names.

    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh

    The cobalt blue colour mentioned above is all over the place especially noticeable around the big water features - a large lily pond and a small channelled stream.
    The stream especially took my notice as there was a small frog making a huge noise despite there being hundreds of people milling around. And there it was in the roots of one of my all-time favorite plants - dalo/taro aka Colocasia esculenta - anyone who has read through these pages will know that I get excited when ever I see a taro plant - and there it was in the middle of Yves San Laurents garden in the middle of Marrakesh - who'd have thunk.

    Majorelle Gardens, Marrakesh

  • Blog stats

    For a long time I was driven by stats to keep writing this blog. The more I wrote the more hits I received. Around 2 months I basically stopped updating the blog. I would have expected the stats to go down - less visitors but now they are climbing month by month - March was the busiest month ever, and April is looking to be even busier so the less I post then the more people visit the blog.
    ummm what is that telling me - nothing. It just shows how delusional I was about get trying to get the stats up.


    Just so that this post isn't totally self centered here are a couple of photos from my trip to Kuwait last week.
    It is dry - very dry - and yet it rained on each of the days I was there. I can't see myself living in a place like this - desert all over - and these are pictures from a public park where they are trying to display the best of botanical in the country - nope, can't see it happening - not a s a resident (living there).
    I spent three years in Libya but that was rotating - 4 weeks in Libya and 4 weeks in Aberdeen and loved that but I couldn't stand to be without significant greenery for so long.
    hoopee DSCF8188

    In terms of nature the highlight was a good sighting of a Hoopoe bird - one that had been on my bucket list and had once caught a glimpse of in Libya. Now I have an even better sighting of the spectacular bird and can definitely tick it off the list.



  • Hmmm new way to share photos?

    Xmas Come dine with me 2013 038

    Hmmm I may have found a new way to share my photos - via Flickr - which means that I don't need the 3GB of storage on this blogging site which means that I don't need to pay the 39 euros a year which means that I don't feel the pressure to post (self-induced pressure in that I have already paid for the site so I need to make use of the money) which means that it could become more enjoyable to post and less of a chore.

    Tyurns out that when I said Goodyeeeeee in the last post the number of people reading the posts went up over 200 people a day. Strange - very strange. Maybe it was all the you tube links in the last post.

    Anyhow I thought I would see if I could post via Flickr - and here it is. If you are reading this you on yon t'internet anyhow so it doesn't really matter where the picture is - the page stiull has to go away and bring it from somewhere else.

    By the by - above is our latest crop of Hellebores - not too attractive this year as I moved  them from the tubs last year and into the ground - or rather onto the ground - I jnust dumped the entire tub on top of the ground then built a raised bed around the dump. The raised bed doesn't look too attractive at the moment but then i didn't know if the transplant would work. Initially something was eating all the hellebore leaves - I'm looking at you bunny mowers - so I dropped a cage over the top - a used veggie basket - and that seemed to cure their lust for baby hellebore leaf salad. However we havenit yet had any flowers so maybe it will take another year or two to get back into flowering. As the tranplanting seems to have taken I will now endeavour to improve the appearance of the raised bed if I ever get back to Tipperty with some time in hand.

    And with the pressure off I may do the odd post - at least until I do move to the middle east or reach 1000 posts. We shall see.

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