Tuesday 2 September 2014

Chelsea Flower Show

Did you see the pictures of roses I posted on Sunday? Those were only a tiny fraction of the photos I took at Chelsea Flower Show this year. And ready or not, here's the rest of them! 

I had been wanting to go to the show for years. It is on each spring, and feels so very essentially British to me. It is certainly a well-loved institution. The BBC covers it extensively on TV, showcasing the landscaping designs and treating the gardeners like rock stars. There will inevitably be talk on the news about which celebrities have been spotted amongst the crowds, and I think this year Benedict Cumberbatch was the most photographed one, spending a day at the show with his mom. Sadly, this was a couple of days before I made my visit. I did not see anybody famous, but the stunning horticultural arrangements were extravagant enough in my book.

I don't really know anybody over here who is into gardens, so I went by myself and was able to spent as much time as a wanted marvelling at my favourite displays and taking pictures. I hope you get a good impression of the floral abundance that greeted me there. 

This is a detail of one of the botanical dresses that were made out of hundreds of blossoms. 

Gorgeous, gorgeous lupins in fiery colours. This was one of the displays that I just had to stop and look at for several minutes, trying to let my brain process how perfectly exquisite it was.

While the main focus seemed to be on traditional garden flowers, there were a few exotics like poinsettias, pineapples, and cacti.

South African proteas and and a portrait of Nelson Mandela made from seed pods and plant husks.

It was definitely not daffodil season anymore, so I was surprised to see all different kinds on display. I overheard one visitor telling another that in order to coax them into full bloom, the producers place the bulbs in freezers to simulate the warming up at the beginning of spring when they are taken out. Another thing I read is that some gardeners use hair-dryers to create a warmer climate around their blossoms, so that they can get them to open just in time for the opening of the show. Craziness.

If I was more green-fingered, I'd definitely get a bonsai tree.

Alpine garden and peonies.

I usually find chrysanthemums quite boring, but not when they have been arranged into globes that represent the planets! 


 Some edible floristry.

Delphiniums and begonias.

Foxgloves seemed to be a big trend. Lucky me, as they are one of my favourite wildflowers.

A life-sized water-feature-tree and water feature with reflection.

These fountains were both part of gardens who one a bronze and a silver-gilt medal.

This enchanting mossy Japanese garden won gold.

This garden was inspired by the Tour de France coming to England later in the year. It won a silver medal. I particularly liked the bicycle rim detail in the wall. You had too look twice to realize what the material was.

Detail in the silver-gilt-winning topiary garden.

This traditional potter's garden won gold.

I was smitten with this spacey light-installation-cum-flower pots.

Another award-winning garden, with upside down plants reflected in a mirror at your feet, making you feel like you were looking at the top of a lush forest. I think I missed a few gardens, but would you just look at the amount of people that were trying to get a glimpse themselves. My head was bursting with sensory overflow after a whole afternoon of beauty, I wouldn't have been able to take in anything else. 

I am glad that I decided to splash out on a ticket. I had a brilliant time, and next year I will no longer wonder what I am missing.
© Text & Photos - Annika - All The Live Long Day (unless otherwise stated).

Monday 1 September 2014

Lüneburger Heide

Whenever Marco and I go to Germany to see my family, my Mama has a brimful schedule of outings planned for us. Over the past years, I have been introduced to or become re-acquainted with some beautiful corners of Northern Germany this way. Most of our excursions also include a stop at a charming café for Kaffee und Kuchen as a bonus.

We have just come back from another visit, and this time my parents, my Opa, Marco and I spent a day in the Lüneburger Heide. This is a protected area of undulating heath in the Northeastern part of Lower Saxony, coloured purple by blooming heather during late summer. On this lovely, sunny day, we went on a tour in a horse-drawn cart near the village of Undeloh.

View of the heath with its typical juniper growth and a gorgeous big sky.

Despite the pleasant sunshine it was windy on the heath, so we wrapped up in warm woollen blankets to stay cosy in the coach.

The rents.

The trees and the hubster.

Bee-keeping is one of the traditional industries in this area. The hives are sheltered inside little sheds, and even from the distance, you could see the bees going about being busy, making the famous heather honey.

We ran into a big heard of typical Heidschnucken sheep, which have been used as a natural way of maintaining the landscape of the heath for ages. They are kept in the traditional way, roaming, searching for food in wind and weather, with a shepherd and dogs looking after them. They keep the grass around the heather short, preserving the characteristic environment of the area. Their meat and wool are another popular heath commodity. 

A sheep barn with the traditional thatched roof.

The roof on this barn was just being redone, you can see that it is unfinished at the front. The reeds will be cut down and the whole ridge will be finished with a layer of heather.

Due to its status as a preservation area, you are not allowed to pick any heather from the heath directly. There is still a lot of opportunity to take some with you as a souvenir, in the form of commercially raised plants and various posies and wreaths, which a lot of local people sell out of their front yards.

After we finished our horse treck, we drove on to Schneverdingen. This town has a park that combines over 150 different kinds of heather in a stunning year-round display of colours

My Opa and Papa in their green tops stood in nice contrast to all the different purple hues.

For the best view, we climbed the little viewing platform. This is Schneverdingen's coat of arms.

And this round flower bed was arranged in the shape of a giant compass.

We spotted two wren fledglings in the vicinity of the park. Here is one, they just wouldn't sit still to have their photograph taken.

We saw another herd of sheep, roaming right past the park.

On the way back from the heath, we stopped at the picturesque Café im Rilke-Haus in the little artist village Fischerhude.

This attractive little house with its surrounding gardens is situated right on the banks of the river Wümme. It used to belong to the artist Clara Rilke-Westhoff, who lived here with her daughter after her marriage with poet Rainer Maria Rilke had crumbled. The people who turned it into a café left it mostly unaltered, and you take your home-made cake in the former library, sitting on Clara's furniture, surrounded by her art. Even though she was a life-long sculptor and painter, starting to create at 17 and being trained by August Rodin, she was never as renowned as her husband or other artists of the same school of style.

These are a few snapshots from our after-cake-walk. Stuffed badgers seemed to be the taxidermy du jour, this fellow was one of the two I spotted.

© Text & Photos - Annika - All The Live Long Day (unless otherwise stated).