.. and peaceful on a hot day in Glasgow Botanic Gardens.
No, it's not about how few things we have on our tables!
It is about making our tables a real pleasure to look at and finding the number (approximately - let's not get fixated on the numbers!) of items that feels right to each of us.
I am temperamentally inclined towards minimalism, so one beautiful item on my table is enough to lift my spirits, sustain me and satisfy my need for calm.
I can think of past tables covered in children's drawings, homework, musical instruments, craft projects, packed lunches, newspapers, leftovers to be nibbled at - there is clutter and there is clutter! Life is for living and tables are for using after all. I once ran a business from my kitchen table.
A friend always has a little stack of the latest books by her favourite authors on her table, another, an excellent cook, has recipe books and shopping lists spread out. An artist friend has more objects per square inch than anyone I know, but each group is a potential still life painting.
(In the name of research I looked up tablescapes on Pinterest. Aaaaaaaaargh. Too much stuff! I lasted about 15 seconds.) I think of Kaffe Fassett-like tables, little collections on side tables, folding tables or nests of tables that are never folded or nested, stools that act as tables, tables that act as stools. I have four tables in the garden....
Then there are bedside tables. If you need lots of things by your bed do you have a table with a drawer? Wouldn't it be lovely if the first thing you saw when you opened your eyes in the morning delighted you? A posy, a card, a photograph - done in a moment.
Timetables, times tables, periodic tables, bird tables....
..on flower arranging I picked up somewhere along the way (it may have been from Sarah Raven).
Arrange your flowers in the vase then. when you have finished, lift the whole bunch up out of the vase a few inches and let it go, let it loosen a bit and fall open.
A subtle thing.
The journey by public transport to the Outer Hebrides can be like a classic tour of Scotland. The bus (Citylink) clean and comfortable leaves via Glasgow's attractive West End, drives up Loch Lomond, through Glencoe, and over the bridge to Skye. You then travel the length of Skye and meet the Cal Mac ferry at Uig. About 8 or 9 hours in total.
And, indulge me, a last few photographs of my trip to North Uist..
Immediately behind the yellow gate is the (single track) road between us and the forest.
The forest is coniferous but with a deciduous edge of beech, sycamore, oak, ash and willow.
A wonderful 'borrowed landscape'.
Between the fuchsia and the azalea is another glimpse into the forest.
The garden is my sanctuary, but It's good to look outwards too, both literally and metaphorically....
I take this shot every year too.
Looking out of the front door onto the pots on the steps
I have put a different flower in the pots this year - Baby Blue Eyes, nemophila menzii, a wonderful colour but far too straggly in pots! That doesn't matter in the beds where they thread themselves through other plants rather charmingly (the slugs got those ones this year) so I think I will stick to the wonderful Mexican Daisy, erigeron karvinskianus as I have done is previous years...
..like notes on a stave.
Lotta's comment on the latin plant name yesterday reminded me of this post from way back. (Lucille you have been with me for a long long time! x)
Another chair in danger of being taken over. Golden hop this time - I swear it grows several inches every day!
The rose is called 'Lucky' and the perfume is beautiful this hot day.
Campanula lactiflora 'Anna Lodden' and geranium 'Patricia'.
Campanula 'Pritchard's Variety' with geranium 'Rozanne'
Geranium psilostemnon is very like 'Patricia' - maybe a tiny bit more intense in colour, a little taller and not so long-lasting.
I know I say this every year but papaver ruprifragum attracts more insects than any other plant in the garden. Each flower has 6 to 8 hoverflies in it early in the morning.
It looks a bit horrible actually! Infested!
I hope you are getting some sunshine..
It is hard to be simple in a complex world.
I try to live simply and simply live, and I also try not to be simplistic, so the title I Think You'll Find It's A Bit More Complicated Than That made me smile and pick up Ben Goldacre's book...so far so very interesting.
Meanwhile the garden is at it's most abundant and the chair needs rescuing from the alchemilla mollis....
I'm a bit of a hit and miss photographer (digital cameras allow that don't they - love that delete button!) and I got lucky with this shot when I rested the camera on the handrail of the ferry to North Uist...I love the abstract quality of it..
This was 'the one that got away'. The two stags were standing facing each other, antlers proud and high, silhouetted against the sky in the middle of this opening - magnificent! Classic!
By the time I got out of the car and got my camera set up they had lost interest in posing and turned their backs on me....
I still see the shot I nearly had when I look at this.
Has this happened to you?
I have wanted to see the machair in flower for years, but had never been in the right place at the right time until last week on North Uist, specifically at Balranald Nature Reserve run by the RSPB and the crofters of the area.
(I am having difficulty creating links, and text to go with the photos so am just posting this anyway and will work on it......)
There is an excellent campsite here with a catering van from 11 - 3 selling wonderful home made food.
It was a joy to walk through fields of wild flowers.
Many are familiar, but the wild carrot, sea pansies, the little erodium (stork's bill, relative of the geranium) and many hybrid orchids were a special delight.
I had planned a much longer post on this special habitat but Weebly is playing up today and deleting things as fast as I can type them!!!
...but the island of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides on a long-planned trip with friends. Bittersweet without Barry, we were three instead of four.
We are sunswept and windburned. Otter spotting, wildlife watching and botanising, (and Wimbledon when it was wet!)
Have you been to the Outer Isles?
I'm taking a tip from Barack Obama.
(That man is the epitome of cool. And I don't usually read the South China Morning Post but it was the most comprehensive review of what Obama said.)
It is July and the rosa glauca and campanula Anna Lodden are blooming together as I hoped they would. Here are a couple of good gardening blogs - struggles in opposite ends of the UK with Christine in the Outer Hebrides, who describes herself as 'the servant of the garden' at Gardening in a Gale and Jessica at Rusty Duck in Devon who will make you laugh about her battle with 'more munching critters than you can shake a garden fork at'. And see why Lucille will never be self sufficient...
Do you grow the deliciously scented annual Matthiola longipetala - night scented stock?
A tiny sprig or two will scent the room in late evening into early morning. I have a little jar of it on most windowsills throughout the house.
It doesn't look much in the garden as the flowers close in daytime, and it is often grown along with Malcomia maritima, the pretty Virginian stock, to give colour during the day.
They are both easy to grow and there is probably still time to sow a row of them for late summer/autumn flowers.
It was one of my husband Barry's favourites and I am picking from the sowing I made when he died in February, so there is an added poignancy to the exquisite perfume.
Here is an article on the night garden by one of my favourite garden writers Dan Pearson.
Voltairs's Candide, disillusioned with the world's affairs said Il faut cultiver son jardin.
Letting some areas of the grass grow and cutting paths through is working quite well so far, but it is a fine line between relaxed (which is what I am calling my new garden style!) and neglected.
On warm sunny days, of which we have had a lot in June, it looks romantic and lush, but when it gets flattened by rain or wind I have to say it just looks messy.
All in the eye of the beholder of course and if I am feeling good I love it, if I am panicking slightly that I will never be able to keep up the garden without Barry, not so good..
I think how you treat the edges and the perimeter makes all the difference. I try to keep border edges really sharp. I only cut the obvious ones, but with new super-sharp long handled shears it only takes minutes, and if I do it often I get away with not picking up the trimmings...you get the idea I'm sure...
This edge below used to get strimmed right up to the wall. Who knew there were so many marguerites in there?
Elsewhere alchemilla mollis and hardy geraniums hide a multitude of sins.
I never did get this bed weeded or the surface moss removed, but it doesn't show now. (Hope to tackle it in the autumn.)
I've decided the leaning fence looks whimsical and rather romantic. (Another job for autumn.)
It's so relaxed it's falling over!
Spotted at the barbecue - a golden ringed dragonfly (I think?) I have just learned that a dragonfly holds its wings open when at rest, and a damselfly holds them closed....
Thanks to Jennie and Ross for the great photographs.
More on dragonflies and damselflies here.
..with yet more division in the world.
I remain at heart a European.
(The computer was fixed by removing the battery and leaving it overnight. Who knew? Laura knew. Thanks Laura. x)
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)