Piet Oudolf as Inspiration

I watched an absolutely wonderful film about Piet Oudolf earlier this week and want to share it with you!

Five Seasons: The Gardens of Piet Oudolf

The film takes a look at some of the gardens he has designed, such as the Lurie Garden in Chicago, the High Line in New York, or the Hauser and Wirth garden in the south of England. It also focuses on the changing of seasons in these and in his own garden, Hummelo.

A very big thank you to Angie at North Trail Living for sharing this film and for posting links to several other documentaries on famous gardeners too. Do take a look at her post!

My Man of Many Talents gave me two more of Piet Oudolf’s books for Christmas. I haven’t started reading this one yet, which is a German version, describing how his garden ‘Hummelo’ evolved.

But I completely devoured this one on Christmas and Boxing Day…

… reading it from cover to cover! It is actually a list of plants, with photos, descriptions and useful planting information…

This picture has been open on my desk for several weeks now and is providing inspiration for my next spring project.

It is from another German version of one of Oudolf’s books, written with Noël Kingsbury. I am afraid I don’t know the English title…

 

Have you visited any of Piet Oudolf’s gardens? Read any of bis books? If you know of him, what do you think about his planting style? Would love to hear anything you know about him or his gardens!

Thanks for reading!

Book Review: ‘Lab Girl’ by Hope Jahren

I have just finished reading this great book, recommended to me by Sheryl at Flowery Prose last November and immediately put on my Christmas wish list. You can read her review here, but I will add a few words too.

Hope Jahren is a scientist with a gift for writing, and the book flows right from the start. She recounts her life in an enchanting and extremely readable way, mixing in fascinating information and descriptions of trees, plants and her work. The story is full of ups and downs, telling candidly, passionately, and often hilariously of her (sometimes unconventional) struggles to set up labs, her discoveries, her dedication to her research, and the dear friend Bill who accompanied her through it all. Her style of writing is fluid and amusing, but also incredibly poignant when we note the hidden comparisons between the lives of trees and those of humans.

I really loved this book and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone with a vague interest in trees, botany or science in general who wants a good weekend read.

Take a look at Sheryl’s review – she can say it so much better than I can!

😀

 

Christmas Cookies: Linzer Cookies (Vegan)

Cookies3

A novelty twice over for me – not only are they the first Linzer Cookies I have ever made, they are also my first vegan Christmas cookies – and I am absolutely delighted with the results!

I must give all the credit for the recipe to a wonderful vegan cook and baker, Stina Spiegelberg. Her blog Vegan Passion is also written partly in English, so please do go and visit her. Even better, if you know some German then buy one of her books. I bought her Vegan Xmas cookbook recently and have tried her delicious non-cheese “cheescake” (Zupfkuchen) already too.

VeganXmas

Stina, you have made my first vegan Christmas a delight!

Linzer Cookies

Cookies2

  • 4-5cm round cookie cutter and small cookie cutters for the centres
  •  460g (3 and 3/4 cups) wholemeal (spelt) flour
  • 80g (1/2 cup) ground hazelnuts
  • 100g (1/2 cup) sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 250g (about 2 sticks and 2 tbsps) vegan butter
  • 4 tbsps soya milk
  • 200g (7 oz) raspberry jam/jelly (I prefer the seedless jelly 😉 )

Mix all the ingredients together except for the jam. Add the soya milk at the end as you bring the dough together to form a smooth ball. Then chill it for at least 30 minutes, wrapped in clingfilm.

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F and line large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about 3mm thickness. Cut out circles using a 4-5cm cookie cutter. In half of the circles cut out tiny hearts, stars etc from the centre. You are aiming to make about 50 cookies.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. Don’t let them get too brown! Let them cool on a rack and then spread the jam over the bottom halves and gently press the top halves onto them. You need about a third to a half a teaspoon per cookie.

The jam filling does mean that they go a little soft after a day or two, but they still taste wonderful and can be kept for a couple of weeks in an airtight tin.

Cookies1

Have you done any Christmas baking yet?

 

 

Book Review: Flora Poetica: The Chatto Book of Botanical Verse

Flora Poetica: The Chatto Book of Botanical Verse

Selected, Edited and with an Introduction by Sarah Maguire

FloraPoetica2

Recently this book featured as a prop in my “In a Vase on Monday” post, and I realized I had not reviewed it although I have had it for several years now.

Vase2nd1

This collection of poetry is the second favourite in my book shelf (my first favourite is the New Dragon Book of Verse which I learned to love in my school days!), and it often gets an airing, not just in winter.

The poems are all about plants, and they are (in my opinion!) all wonderful… in very different ways. Perhaps I haven’t read every single one, but there are many I have read over and over again. One seasonal example is Louise Glück’s “Snowdrops”, which I find very moving. Here’s an excerpt…

… I did not expect to survive,
earth suppressing me. I didn’t expect
to waken again, to feel
in damp earth my body
able to respond again, remembering
after so long how to open again
in the cold light
of earliest spring–

Snowdrops February 2014

Snowdrops last spring

The book is divided rather unusually into botanical families, which means that I have learnt a few things while thumbing through it. Did you know, for example, that forget-me-nots are in the same family as borage? I suppose some of you did, as you are all so knowledgeable, but I had never given it much thought! We are taken through over 50 different botanical families such as the  Maple and the Beech, the Onion, Arum, Lily, Beech, Spurge and Olive, and many of the poems have a note on the botanical name of the plant, tree or flower that is the subject. The sections vary in length; families like the Vine have only one, while the Rose section has over 40. One of my favourites in the Rose section is Dorothy Parker’s “One Perfect Rose”, and here are the first and last verses

A single flow’r he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet –
One perfect rose….

… Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.

ValentinesDay2

 Another surprising element of this anthology is to read one poem from, say, the 17th century and then the next one is from the 20th century. For example, Robert Herrick’s poem “To Daffadills”  is followed by Sylvia Plath’s “Among the Narcissi”. Then the first line of the 1998 James Reiss poem “Lily” reads “Went out & scissored a lily…” and on the opposite page we read “White though ye be; yet, Lillies, know…” in Robert Herrick’s “How Lillies Came White” from 1648. These juxtapositions are fascinating, unexpected and work very well.

Taglilie2

It is also fascinating to see the way certain plants, such as the rose, have captured the romantic imagination over centuries. Symbols and human desires have changed very little over time, even though the countryside in which they grow has altered dramatically. John Clares idyllic images of rural England in the early 19th century demonstrate this time and again with his references to meadows, wheatfields and cattle grazing. There are quite a few of his poems here; with his eye for detail and his passion for the countryside he tended to focus frequently on individual plants.

And then having Sylvia Plath next to Ted Hughes, or John Clare (“The Wheat Ripening”) next to Vikram Seth (“Evening Wheat”) is, quite simply, very enjoyable reading.

IrisRain

There are many writers in here I did not know before, from all over the globe, and I have been encouraged to look for more of their work. But then there are also the lovely old English familiars; Thomas Hardy, John Donne, W.B.Yeats, William Wordsworth, D.H. Lawrence, etc.

The book has an index of the poems under the botanical families, as well as an index of poets, one of titles AND one of first lines. There is also a nice introduction by Sarah Maguire, a poet herself, who composed this anthology. She describes how and why she gathered so many poems on flora and gives a few details of what she was unable to include, as well.

If you love plants, botany and poetry you will most definitely like this book!

FloraPoetica

Click on this picture for a link where you can buy Flora Poetica

A final note: the name “Chatto” in the title refers to the publishers Chatto and Windus, an imprint of Random House. I thought there must be a connection to Beth Chatto so looked this up and found out that the founder of this publishing house in 1873 was actually Beth Chatto’s father-in- law. Curiosity satisfied!

In a Vase on Monday: Earthly Joys

I look forward to Mondays these days… Searching my garden for something attractive to put in a vase for Cathy’s meme has become quite a ritual, although I must admit to sometimes doing this a day early.

Today I carried my little vase through the house to the lightest room, my fingers still numb from the cold, and as I opened the door there lay the book I have been intending to read for some time now: “Earthly Joys” – the perfect title for my post!

Vase19th3

This is the same Hellebore from my patio pot that I used two weeks ago, and I found the label. It seems I mixed up the names of this and my Amaryllis/Hippeastrum – the Amaryllis is not Christmas Star as I had thought, but “Bolero”. The Hellebore is “Christmas Star”.

Vase19th4

I added a few sprigs of box, some laurel, Euonymous, Vinca and Carex, and a few red Heuchera leaves.

Vase19th2

Despite our lack of sunshine in January, I did manage to find a light spot for the photo. Have you noticed how the days are getting longer ?

Vase19th5

Sun of joy, and pleasure’s light,
All were lost in gloom of night.
Night so long, with tears and sorrow–
Hearts might break ere broke the morrow.
Day so short and night so long–
Fled the bird and hushed the song.
But, my heart, look up, be stronger,
For the days are growing longer. “

from “Now the Days are Growing Longer” by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Take a look at Cathy’s site “Rambling in the Garden” where she has presented her beautiful white Amaryllis today.

And many others have linked in with their own creations too. Why not join in?!

😀