Saturday 26 February 2011

Photo Friday

Another Haworthia today. This time the spotted form. Again very animal in nature reminds me of octopus tentacles, with the little suckers.

Wednesday 23 February 2011

A Japenese teaser

Having read a friends post on some rather lovely Japanese pottery, I went in search of some photos of a trip to Japan a few years back.  I loved Japan, it was unlike anywhere else I had every been in almost every respect.  Sadly my camera did not like it,  maybe it was a bit embarrassed about not being state of the art and only 3 of the photos are presentable.

The main part of the trip was in Kobe, but we had a chance to spend a few days in Kyoto visiting all the temples.  On one day we drove out to visit a temple outside the city and it was so calm with giant tres, ferns and moss covered stones

At the top there was a lovely little fountain.

This was where all the buildings were, with a very minamalist gravel garden.

I wish I had more photos to share, I guess I am just going to have to return to take some.

Friday 18 February 2011

Photo Friday

A different type of spiky today. I think it goes well with the terminal spines post form the other day!

Sunday 13 February 2011

It's terminal

Spines that is before anyone worries. One of the characteristics I look for in agaves are the terminal spines. They come in different colours, shapes and sizes and this in one area that I don't have a favourite.

Starting with the coloured ones in which the spines themselves may be uninteresting, but the colour sets them aside.

Some have colour and a twist

Agave Cupreata
 In some the twist gets even more defined, agave potatorums have some of the best twists; it is one of the distinctive features of this plant.

Agave potatorum kisshokan
The plant above just seems to get better every year and has very dark red almost burgundy spines.  Another really good twist is on agave verschaffeltii. 

agave verschaffeltii
It may not be totally clear in the picture but the plant above has great long spines with a really good almost wavy twist.  By this stage we are into the serious spines category.  One of the simplest has to be on agave nigra.

Agave nigra
It may not look much but I love the almost jet black colour (or i guess lack of it) and they are big chunky and HURT when you catch one. Agave nigra has totally straight terminal spines; the following agave is the complete opposite.  I have posted it before as my Halloween post,

Agave titonata
The terminal spines on this particular plant are so gnarly they get caught and distort as they unfurl. It creates some interesting shapes and every leaf is different. While this one looks dangerous the spines are so distorted I never catch myself on them, unlike agave montana which has needle-like spines.

Agave montana
These are so lethal I do actually cut the tips off as otherwise I am forever pulling them out of my legs where they have snapped off and I am sure you can imagine my OH's view on this one! But as vicious as they are, they don't win the prize for the most over the top terminal spines. For that there is only one contender: the agave utahenses family.  There are a few different varieties and they all have dramatic terminal spines, but nothing compares to agave utahensis v. eborispina.

agave utahensis v eborispina (from BCSS show 2008)
Need I say more? 

Saturday 12 February 2011

Storm Lantern

Given the recent Moroccan theme with the post on  Jardin Majorelle, I thought I would continue it with my latest stained glass project.  I am almost as pleased with the photo as I am with the actual storm lantern. It would have been even better if I hadn't put it together wrong, the orange sections were meant to alternate.  But then I guess if I didn't point it out no one would know. Now we just need some warmer weather so we can sit outside in the garden with it.

And if I decide it doesn't work as a lantern  I can always use it a terrarium.

Friday 11 February 2011

Photo Friday

Haworthia limifolia is one of my most interesting plants.  I love the texture to the leaves, reminds me of ripples on water.

Sunday 6 February 2011


One of the things I like about visiting different countries is looking at the statues the locals carve.  I have a particular love of local gods, idols or fertility figures, much to my OHs horror!  I usually try to pick up at least one little souvenir on each trip, but this has slowed dramatically since traveling with my OH, she seems to think we don't need lots of fertility statues around the garden let alone the house.

A lot of the statues have come from various parts of the pacific.  I was lucky enough to travel around quite a few of the islands and loved all the different images.  This little fella is from the Cook Islands (which if you ever get a chance to visit are stunning and my favourite place in the world). At some point I will have to do a post on the carved palm trees I saw there.

This next one is from Papaya New Guinea.  Sadly I have yet to get there, but found it on one of the other islands in the area.  It is quite a bit more scary than most and is not one many people seem to like.  I think it has a certain something though.

I have a couple form Hawaii, again they seem to have gone for more ferocious than cute and cuddly. Sadly I had run out of money by the time I got there and this one is a bit tourist,  but I hope one day to carve a nicer version myself. (one of the many things on my to-do list). Actually the idea for this post came from from the blog Laguna Dirt and their Tiki statues (thank you for the idea).

Next is Ghana and again I have a few from here.  This one is by far my favourite, not just because I haven't seen another like it, but because of the look of surprise on her face. I was working out there at the time,  and had the strangest haggling experience every to get this.  I am sure most people are used to the usual ask a price,  then haggle it down to something that is reasonable and fair.  The price for this was so low I was a bit taken aback, so offered a much higher price.  We then went back and forwards them haggling the price down me haggling up.  In the end we settled on something that was still stupidly cheap but I thought fairer.  The only time I have ended up paying more than the original asking price.

The back of this one is fun as she has a baby clinging to her, and excuse my language, but very well defined buttocks.

I will finish in Nepal. This Buddha for which I am sure there is an official term, but which I refer to as stretching Buddha is probably where I go from interesting to tat.  I am not sure it has artistic merit when the value was determined by the weight of the metal. I read a book before my visit called Shopping for Buddhas by Jeff Greenwald about the joy of searching for the perfect Buddha statue in Nepal, and so I did a little searching myself. I found this little round bellied gem in a pile of metal being sold probably for scrap. However he was valued,  I like him,  and whenever I look at him I am instantly transported back to the narrow winding streets of Kathmandu with their colours, sounds and smells.

Overall i think they are more tasteful than tat, but my OH thinks otherwise, I guess the saying is true: one mans tasteful is another womans tat. But do not worry we have not stopped collecting,  only when my OH gets involved it is no longer little statues that can be hidden away.

Saturday 5 February 2011

Jardin Majorelle

I enjoy seeing all the posts about gardens people visit around the world.  While not as good as being there,  they can cheer up a dull day, and many end up on a list of places to visit if I am ever in the area. Having visited a few myself, I though I would post a some to fill in the quiet times.

A couple of years back, my OH and I went to Morocco. One of the places we visited was Jardin Majorelle. Originally the home and garden of the French painter Jacques Majorelle and first opened to the public in 1947.  Restored by Pierre Berge and Yves Saint Laurent in 1980 it is well worth a visit if you ever happen to be in Marrakesh.. 

It is probably best known for its hard landscaping in bright colours, something which sadly does not work in the UK due to lower light levels. I would love to paint my house this colour, although even with better light it may attract a few strange glances.

There is a larger dry bed just in front of the house which has a lovely selection of agaves and cacti. This is surrounded by beds with a mixture of different planting including palms, bamboos and bananas.  

One of my favourite aspects were all the brightly colour pots edging ad sometimes blocking the paths.

When you need a rest there are a few little places to sit and watch the world go by.

Looking through the photos again reminds me what a lovely holiday it was.  Given outside it is grey and windy , I know where I would rather be!

Friday 4 February 2011

Frosty Friday.

A very frosty agave bracteosa, one the hardiest for the UK but strangely underrated.  This one has been planted out for three years now and despite the last few very bad winters it has not even been marked.  If only more agaves coped as ell as this from such a small size.