Friday, 25 April 2014

The Peacock Listener

Whilst pottering around yesterday, I was thrilled to see the annual return of an old friend to the garden.

The Peacock Butterfly (Inachis Io), is a familiar sight in gardens up and down the British Isles. Fluttering from bloom to bloom, my peacock acquaintance circled me several times to inquire as to Why I was removing a delicious dandelion from the borders? Why I was mowing the lawn in that direction? and Why I was unpacking stored Dahlia tubers from a wooden crate? Jeepers creepers, they really are the most inquisitive of creatures.

Although renowned for feasting on nettles, dandelions and thistles, my fervent weeding leaves the butterflies no option but to find alternative nectar within the garden. Erysimum seems to be their current plat du jour where they can be found throughout the morning, face-down, slurping and gorging themselves on its sugary nectar.

Males set up territories around midday, often on the sunniest side of the garden, leaning against a tree where they nonchalantly chew gum whilst waiting for a passing female. If they encounter a male, the territorial resident will see him off briskly. When a female is found, he will then go through an extended courtship chase before she allows him to mate. He must demonstrate high-performance, top gun flight capabilities if he is to have any chance of cancelling his membership to

The infamous eye spots are one of the Peacock butterfly's primary defense mechanisms, which they flash to warn off hungry blue tits or other avian predators. It is also able to produce a rather effective and defensive hissing noise by rubbing its wings together, that is apparently audible to the human ear. I haven't witnessed this behaviour to date, no doubt I'll be found leaning into the borders over the coming weeks, with a cupped hand behind my ear.

One can only assume that after such a hectic day that the Peacock butterfly hits the sack early to prepare for another tomorrow full of adventures. So bear a thought for my diaphanous winged friends this Springtime and take the time to say hello, it ain't that easy being a butterfly.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Holboellia coriacea

I couldn't resist sharing a picture of a particularly fine and rarely seen Japanese strain of Holboellia coriacea, that we grow in the gardens of Magical Manor that has just come into flower this week. 

I have gardened in many different styles over the years, wandering from manicured Evergreens to pampered Exotics and all in between but beautifully perfumed, quirky or high altitude plants have always been at the top of my interest list.
The abundantly floriferous Holboellia coriacea fits the bill perfectly with its gorgeous flowers, heady perfume and rather strange sausage shaped edible fruits, that the squirrels go wild for. 

Its blooms have arrived just in time for me to sit underneath, to enjoy the Gardenia-like scent of this very special plant whilst enjoying some afternoon tea.

What kind of perfumed plants do you like to grow?

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Show me the Bunny!

Winding down here for the long weekend.
Looking forward to getting out and about in both town and country.
Fingers crossed we might get some great picnic weather.
I can finish some tasks in the garden.
I might even join the parade!
Whatever you get up to, have a very...
Happy Bank Holiday Weekend Wabbiteers!

Happy Easter!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Gaultier Details

Last week heralded the much anticipated arrival of Jean Paul Gaultier's touring exhibition at London's Barbican, showcasing the most exciting creations ever to emerge from Maison Gaultier.

Having had the privilege of working on Monsieur Gaultier's couture pieces as a bead fairy and a major lifelong fascination with couture embroidery, beading and lacework techniques, I had been eagerly awaiting the first weekend of the exhibition so that I could get up close and personal.

Since its launch in Montreal I have seen many articles relating to the show so I wanted to just zoom in on what were some of the key details that caught my magpies eye and made my heart jump into disco beats.

Ranging from from his famed twists on the classic nautical stripe to the most exquisitely pleated mille-feuille chiffon shield dress that made my eyes pop out on stalks. Geometric Barbarella-inspired waists sat alongside jet-encrusted, exoskeletal-armoured corsetry. Delicate ethnic embroidery and mind-blowing beadwork called my name at every turn and gorgeous plumage jackets had me contorting my body into complex yoga poses just to be able to get an eyeful of the individually hand-stitched feathers and fine craftsmanship. 

The exhibition held me hypnotically in its tightly laced grip for my entire visit. I'm still dreaming of bevel edged sequins and chantilly lace so much so, that I may have to visit again. 


9th April to 25th August
Barbican Art Gallery

Monday, 7 April 2014

In awe of blossom!

What could be more wonderful than a mélange of gentle blossom to start the week?

You don't have to know your Amelanchier from your Prunus, or even your Cercis from your Malus to enjoy nature's very own ornamental confetti this month. 

Lift your eyes as you walk along, follow the flight of the bumblebee and let beautiful blossom raise your spirits and widen your smile.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

International Pillow Fight Day!

It was a seemingly ordinary day yesterday, as I made my way to the Royal Academy.
Despite the clouds, the tourist season is in full swing, judging by the huge numbers I got caught up in.
I couldn't put my finger on it but there was something about this crowd that just seemed out of place. 
Little did I know what I had walked into...

All of a sudden a shout went out in the crowd from a rather scantily clad gentleman yielding a megaphone.

Roars of rapturous cheers rippled out over Trafalgar Square.

Before erupting into pillow fight madness....

Even as an onlooker, I still spent the rest of the afternoon picking feathers out of my hair!

Just an ordinary Saturday afternoon in London.
How was your weekend?

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Perfume Jam

It became obvious upon throwing the conservatory doors open today,
that in my absence the garden had been having a
Spring-perfume-party-jam-session all of its very own. Oh yes!

Don't let these dainty and demure beauties fool you for one second,
for they are the powerhouse of a fabulously scented Spring.

The blend of intense perfumes was nothing short of a nostril extravaganza.
So grab a cocktail and let me introduce you to the cool cats in my perfumed garden.....

We've got Mr Brugmansia on lead vocals with his backing divas; the Choisya Sisters, saweeet!

On Bass, Viburnum carlesii 'Aurora', those are some deep notes you're playing there brother.

On Keyboards, the magic fingers of Osmanthus delavayi, she always hits the high notes.

On drums, the sublime Daphne x transatlantica 'Eternal Fragrance' who likes to round it out nicely.

Not forgetting the elegant and refined Erythronium revolutum 'White Beauty'
she's not particularly scented, more of a groupie who muscled in on the perfume jam!

Now that's, what I call smooooooth!