Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Another from the inch of soil!

Still intrigued by backgrounds and surface pattern (see previous bench post), I took this June photo of my 'Garden in an Inch of Soil'. I've never been a fan of tarmac, but the pink chippings in the road surface do go rather well with the pink spiraea blooms!

The spiraea is (I think!) 'Goldflame', and next to it is my favourite Stachys byzantina 'Primrose Heron' and budding Sedum 'Autumn Joy'. All thriving in the one-inch deep flowerbed over concrete!

Friday, 26 June 2009

Bench(es) of the Week: Abstractions!

Since participating in Bench of the Week each Friday, I've starting actually looking at benches instead of just sitting on them occasionally! I noticed this group of benches in the University of Durham Botanic Garden. Despite having sat on them on numerous occasions I had never realised that they are nearly all different!

This is my favourite. I love the 'stressed' effect! The timbers are also quite rounded at the edges.

On this bench the timbers are more angular, and the 'stressed' effect subtly different.

I took a close-up of the timber and found the texture and colours fascinating. I like the way they contrast with the out-of-focus pebbles behind the bench.

On this paler bench the grain of the wood is so very different from the previous !

I experimented with focussing on the background pebbles instead of the wood, which to me gives the effect of the pebbles seeming to be in front of the timber!

On this shot I was interested in the texture and the way the grain of the wood runs at a different angle to the cut of the timber.

This final shot is my favourite! It is of the seating timbers, showing the greenish algae(?) covering on the paving slabs under the bench. There are little wavy lines where I presume snails have been wandering around! I love the contrast in colours and the angular lines of the grain of the wood versus the wiggly lines on the stone!
I was inspired to look at abstractions by a photo of roofing tiles on DianeC's blog Sabino Canyon: the post was some days ago and you can see it here.
'Bench of the Week' was started by RuneE of Visual Norway. Other participants include Barbara Martin, PERBS, Malyss, Ackworth Born and Pacey - do visit their blogs to see their Bench of the Week on Fridays!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Further along the North Bailey - a tour of Ristorante San Marco, my best favourite of restaurants in Durham City!

After admiring the views of Durham Cathedral and River from the benches we have visited, you may well be hungry!
A little further along the North Bailey from the previous bench you will find our favourite Durham restaurant - Ristorante San Marco.

Owner restaurateur Emidio (pictured on the left, with waiter Franco on the right), offers a warm welcome to the many local people and tourists who frequent San Marco. A popular Italian restaurant with local people, students and tourists, word of mouth brings customers back again and again!
A small friendly restaurant, the tables are close enough for ambience, yet spaced apart enough for privacy. The upholstered seats are comfortable, (very important after all those hard benches!), the wines are good, and the food - absolutely superb!

There is a glorious range of starters. My ultimate favourites are the homemade soups, most especially the mushroom - the best I've ever tasted! Other delicious starters are the Antipasto All'Italiana and the Caprese Salad. Oh - and the bread is home-made and out-of-this-world!

The main courses are mouth-watering, ranging from pastas and pizzas to chicken, seafood and steak. I adore the Pollo Valdostana, (tomato, cheese and asparagus), the Fettuccine Diavola and the Pollo San Marco (Cream, Tomato, Dijon Mustard with King Prawns finished with Brandy).

Chef Paul is a genius! You can catch glimpses of him deftly creating his masterpieces through the kitchen door, which is always open. Pizza-chef David makes pizza just as it should be - with plenty of topping!

Before we make our way to the door, would you like to hear about the sweets? Or is that too cruelly tempting? Oh - alright ... there's manager Tom's homemade Tiramisu - (melt-in-the-mouth luxury), homemade Creme Caramel with it's subtlety of flavour, and exquisite homemade Bread-and-butter Pudding, plus many more delights!

Now thoroughly revitalized for another stroll, you can return along the winding old street to the River, or head down Saddler Street to the historic centre of Durham ...


Ingrid Sylvestre - Durham Artist
Durham artist Ingrid Sylvestre, artists in Durham City. 

Friday, 19 June 2009

Bench of the Week - Enclosed Garden

I discovered this secluded haven of tranquillity last week.

Coming up from Durham Riverbanks onto South Bailey, you can see a historic church ahead. This is St Mary-le-Bow and now houses the Durham Heritage Centre and Museum.

I must have walked past hundreds of times and never looked through the railings. Such a beautiful example of a peaceful enclosed garden in the shade!

How tranquil one's thoughts could be, sitting quietly among the gently-coloured plants.
A serene start to the afternoon - now it's time to stroll down into Durham City!
'Bench of the Week' was started by RuneE of Visual Norway. Other participants include Barbara Martin, PERBS, Malyss, Ackworth Born and Pacey - do visit their blogs to see their Bench of the Week on Fridays!

Monday, 15 June 2009

Edges of Hedges!

Browsing through recent photos I'd taken of Moorbank Botanic Garden set me thinking about a recurring 'motif' of subject matter which inspires me: light around the edges of hedges!

I remembered the above painting from 1998, of copperbeeches behind a low hedge at Houghall College, Durham.

Moorbank Botanic Garden has a magnificent copperbeech hedge, rising majestically behind a lower hedge of green. How could one ever have enough of such wonderful subject matter!

The contrast between light and shade, and the complementary colours of yellow-green and purple-red fascinate me, as well as the abstract qualities of the shapes of the hedges.

And the atmosphere ...

Gaps in hedges always intrigue me, as if they are leading somewhere magical.
The painting below is of the view I had while living at Houghall College in 1998. The hedges seemed to flow down the slope, accentuating the gateway which led to fields and mysterious woods topped by billowing clouds.

Ten years prior to this I was lucky enough to live in another beautiful location. Deep in the woods grew a circular hedge which had formerly sheltered a rose garden. Now overgrown, it had a wonderful atmosphere, and I was entranced by the light along the edge of the yew hedge.

Do any of you fellow bloggers have a particular feature of the landscape or gardens which has fascinated you over the years?

Ingrid Sylvestre

Friday, 12 June 2009

Bench of the Week 5: Durham Riverbanks

Another Durham bench this week. Standing on the bridge, gazing at the view over the river and towards the Cathedral, I was not at first aware of the presence of a bench! Can you spot it?

Here it is - a beautiful arched bench of weathered stone!

I do not know it's history - I will add it to the post if I learn anything. Since taking the photo I have noticed that it is a very popular seat. This is not surprising as it commands a wonderful view of the River, and must be a prime spot for watching the rowing for which Durham is well-known.

Bench of the Week was begun by RuneE of Visual Norway. Do visit his beautiful blog and see what intriguing bench is there each Friday. Other regular participants include: Barbara Martin, PERBS , Malyss and Ackworth Born.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Pure Gold

Azalea 'Klondyke' - pure gold outside my window.

Purchased around 12 years ago from Thorp Perrow Arboretum, this lovely Azalea has been potted on and on into bigger tubs.

The corner of the garden is in shadow most of the day. Here basking in the evening sunshine with 'Klondyke' are hostas, ferns, skimmia and the little mauve Cymbelaria muralis.

Earlier flowers still in bud - and the beginning of the perfume of paradise.

A last lingering golden gaze before sundown.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Bench of the Week - Front Seat at the Dance of the Gunnera!

This week's bench is at the Moorbank Botanic Garden of Newcastle University. What a prime location from which to watch the Dance of the Gunnera!

Bench of the Week was begun by RuneE of Visual Norway. Do visit his blog to see his amazingly beautiful bench. Other interesting bench posts can be found on the blogs of: Barbara Martin, PERBS, Malyss, Gerald England and Mad Aunt Bernard.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Dance of the Gunnera

I have been watching the Gunnera manicata grow at the Durham University Botanic Garden.

Today the light was shining through the huge leaves.

As they reach up to the light, the spiky stems gleam.

Emerging leaves like dancers' hands ...

"Yoo-hoo, I'm here!"

Sometimes merry-looking in dance ...

Or sober green and silver with Anthriscus.

And here, at Newcastle's Moorbank Botanic Garden, a complementary green umbrella to the brilliant red poppy.
Happy Birthday Shady Gardener 4th June!!