Sarah Coles

Garden Blog

Plant of the week – July 

This is my red leaved banana, green leaves with red stems and herring bone veins, glossy, impossibly imposing, its central shoot scrolled into a beetroot spike before loosening into a funnel then relaxing into leaves beneath another shoot. Everyone says how splendid, and then, when’s it going to flower?  Which it won’t, it’ll be dead long before it has a chance to consider this.  It’s enough that now, every day, it is here, revealing a fresh leaf and spike every few days.  The sun shines through in late afternoon, making it psychedelic, a creature half plant half animal.  It guards me while I dream.   

Four of these red leaved bananas stand to attention in pots beside the patio steps.  They call to us, to pay attention and listen.  They grow taller and taller, grander by the day.  The name is Musa ensete maurellii.

 

 

 

 

June 11th, 2021

GREEN MAN IN THE GARDEN

In Ely Cathedral there are at least Green Men and animals, with greenery spewing from their mouths and sometimes eyes.  What do they mean?  They are essentially medieval, from the 11th to the 15th centuries, though I have seen a late Roman mosaic Green Man in Istanbul’s mosaic museum. Some say they symbolize pagan nature, always in torment, and always sited near the west end.  However, in Ely they are mostly at the east end, in the choir and near the high altar.  You can spot them in churches and cathedrals all over England. Is he...

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February 24th, 2021

A GARDEN FOR LILLIPUT

15th February 2021 Miniature garden designer My first garden was created decades ago.  Must have been aged about five. When Ma took me out on a walk, I gathered twigs and mosses, and on returning home I arranged them on a plate to become a doll’s house garden.  Ma lent me a little mirror from her handbag.  My garden was Japanese in feel, with bridges, shrubs, a tree here and there and a central glittering pond.  Green was its only colour. I was thinking about it.  And so the other day, in this damp cold time of Covid restrictions, ...

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February 18th, 2021

WINTER LEAVES

It’s winter, depths of.  Freezing.  I look at tree trunks, and lichen like verdigris, and the leaves that remain.  So subtle, unlike the baby froth of spring, the punch of summer or fire of autumn.  It’s like being able to see stars in daytime. There’s variegated ivy spread eagled on a wall, giving all year shelter and nesting to the birds.   Never thought it would grow like this when I bought it in a little pot to stabilise a nearby bank.   Each leaf is an island map with pale, dark  and gold contours. Mid summer I hacked down...

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September 25th, 2020

FIGS

Figs!  So many figs.   Usually one or two edible, but that’s all.  This summer it bore the usual hard green figs but they ripened.  The birds were as excited as we.  So, walking under the leaves, each penis and testicle shaped – no wonder Adam clothed himself in one – a heart shaped linden leaf more suitable for Eve? – the sun glowing through, and reaching for a ripe fig, skin dull brownish green but within rings of dull cream and purple surrounding soft wet pinky orange seeds, its secret garden.  Food for...

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September 25th, 2020

Golden Rain

I planted the Golden Rain Tree, Koelreuteria paniculata oh, twelve years ago, having  checked its hardiness and tolerance of chalky soil.  I liked the name.  Soon I was attaching bird feeder to its branches.   Now, it blots out any summer view from the bedroom above.   In spring ferny pink leaves appear, later green.  In late July and August sprays of tiny gold flowers bloom.  These fade and fall, but the show is not over.  The tree is covered by sprays of little Chinese lanterns holding the seed.  Eventually, leaves and lanterns...

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August 6th, 2020

PAINTING PARADISE

My garden is the nearest I get to paradise.  It is my sanctuary. Years ago I went – I don’t know when – to see Painting Paradise, the Art of the Garden at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, with plant and garden paintings gathered by the royals over the centuries.   I loved the manuscripts of Islamic gardens with octagonal ponds and chenar (plane) trees, lovers and flowers (their deep symbolism barely mentioned in explanatory notes).  Ditto Rembrandt’s painting of Christ as a gardener, complete with trowel.   Ditto...

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August 5th, 2020

SEDUM BLISS

No Chelsea Flower Show this year – the cloud of Covid still hangs over us. But the 2019 RHS Plant of the year was Sedum takimense Atlantis, and I bought two, and this summer Atlantis in its pot has been glorious, white and pale green shoots topped by flurries of tiny gold flowers.  In sun for only half the day, it has flowered for weeks and been a consolation for everything.  This photo I am sorry to say was taken towards the end of its glory.  The other Atlantis, in the front of a border, has not been happy.  I moved it to a...

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April 13th, 2020

Olympic Flame

April and the tulips in the pots and scattered over the garden make the place look on fire.  Apeldoorn Elite particularly is a star, with the three essential Apeldoorn signatures, soft orange red petals, a black star at the base of the tulip bowl, and reappearing year after year. In the time of 17th century tulip mania, when Dutch bulbs exchanged hands for thousands of guilders, the most coveted were ones with flames streaking up the petal sides.  In fact this was caused by a virus, so no wonder these prized wonders did not last that long! ...

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March 24th, 2020

Blossom

It’s March, and the weeping cherry at the end of the yard is blooming.  If I step through the weeping boughs when the sun is out, it’s like being dressed in palest pink glass.  Even though the tree is old and odd boughs have died, it still draws people into our...

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August 1st, 2019

DEREK JARMAN’S GARDEN AT DUNGENESS

No one knows where Dungeness is. Bill thought it was near Aldeburgh and Rosie Sturgis in Wales. It’s a high spur of shingle deposited by floods in Kent when a frozen North Sea thawed after the last Ice Age and flooding the vast plain of Doggerland pushed through the Channel. Ann and I found we were both reading Derek Jarman’s Journals, and had to visit his garden in the shingle of Dungeness. Jarman started the garden when he was already dying of Aids but it took more than four years to kill him. He bought this black wooden fisherman’s...

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