GMBG July – A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush and The Teign Gardener

Technically I missed it. My GMBG for July has drifted into August, I hold my hand up. However, as I am in charge of all things “rules”, and books were shared and thoughts where thunk before the official cut off day, I say that all is fair and above board. This decision is final. Any letters of complaint should be addressed to my agent.

This month’s pairing is A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby and The Teign Gardener.

Shall we consider the book first, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush. I read this book several years ago and to be honest the contents are a little sketchy. What I do remember is that it is funny, beautifully written and engaging. This might sound like faint praise, but for some reason it lodged in my mind. There are many that haven’t.

When a friend was ill, I thought this book would entertain him in his incapacity. Of course I never saw it again. Recently, still missing the potential to revisit what lies within its vanilla pages, I bought myself another copy. The ghost of memory can be very persuasive.

The book tells of the author’s 1956 road trip from London to Afghanistan, along with his friend Hugh Carless. Newby was no stranger to adventure; when he was eighteen he crewed one of the last square riggers to sail to Australia, as documented in his book The Last Grain Race. During the Second World War he dodged Germans and found love in the Italian mountains, you can read all about it in Love and War in the Apennines. But let us not get diverted from the book in question. Unfortunately, his previous exciting travails did not equip him well for his journey into Asia. With the confidence/arrogance of the fearless he muddled through. Do not worry, this is not a pompous book, EN is free with laughter at his own expense, unashamed to highlight their glaring shortcomings and bumblings. And there are photos, I do love a photo.

The Teign Gardener, which is not his given name but one that will suffice, is a stranger to me. Not quite a stranger, but almost. I have gleaned hints and shadows along the way but never quite understood. Of course if I’d asked he might have told me, but I have never felt it necessary. He has a past and a present. I will tell you what I know about his present, or perhaps more accurately what I surmise. He is a gardener. And he is a photographer. He studied a lone sycamore for a year, surveying and recording. We watched along. He is unrelenting and fine-focused. He lives on the edge of Dartmoor and is immersed in its soul, in a way that no one else needs to understand. Along with other fabulous artists, he is a member of group of photographers The Dartmoor Collective. They possibly have long beards and berets, but personally I think this is a good thing.

I chose this book for TTG because of a glimpse I have had of his past, one perhaps fixed in the often-troubled region of Mr Newby’s destination. He might find this book trite or colonial, but I hope he can see past this. I hope he enjoys a tale of adventure, in a time when travel of this kind was extraordinary.

Today TTG celebrates the wilderness. Seventy years ago, I think Mr Newby did that too.

Six on Saturday – Running Late

Here we are again, Six on Saturday time again, I’m running a little bit late. Because of my tardiness, this will most probably be concise but not necessarily accurate. You never know, once I get going anything could happen. If you want to check up on the rest of the gang, and of course the man himself, pop on over to The Propagator’s post and you will find a smörgåsbord for your delectation. Now let us proceed or there will complaints. Mr K might be very quiet at the moment, but believe me, he is lurking in the shadows and misses nothing!

First, we have Cautleya spicata, the Himalayan ginger, which is beautiful in many ways. It will take some frost, some shade and some “oh my, I forgot about you, I had better water/feed/unweedify you”. Gorgeous.

On to an unnamed pelargonium. When we first visited our house, I looked at the red brick steps that lead up to the garden and thought “I want to grow pots of pelargoniums on those steps”. And I did.

Now Linaria ‘Fairy Bouquet’. During the first few weeks of lockdown I wondered if I would be able to get my few bits of bedding that fill the planters at the front of the house. A rummage in the seed tin and I found a pack of these and duly sowed them. They have worked quite well. Unlike the two dahlias that have constantly been eaten down to ground level. Yesterday I rescued them, not before time.

Next an agapanthus that earlier in the season was shuffled. At great personal risk of injury, I dug out this monster, divided it, gave a massive chunk to Westwell Hall and another to my neighbour then replanted the remainder in a more appropriate place. Then I had a lie down. It is a thug which seeds at will and a battalion of snails live in its fleshy leaves, planning their night manoeuvres. I rather like it.

Let’s have something a little more genteel, the lovely Alyogyne huegellii. I’ve no idea how to pronounce it, I do know it is very pretty and is an anagram of ……. Answers please!

Lastly we have the definition of blue. I can’t stop looking at it, and occasionally stroking it whilst cooing words of love. Salvia ‘Blue Angel’, wonderful.

Adieu my friends, keep staying safe and well.

Butterflies

There were a lot of butterflies at Westwell Hall today. This one was easier to photograph than the other ephemeral beauties. But only barely better. The brisk breeze made it challenging to produce a blurless image, but at least this gladioli couldn’t flit off to the next garden.

Terrier

The wind is blowing and the raining is pouring and I have too much time to think. My mind is a terrier, shaking worries to no avail, when it would be more sensible to wander into happier mental climes. And who is suffering? The person who I believe wronged me? Not at all. They are oblivious; whilst I am agonising, perplexed and astounded, reliving events, even worrying that the mistake was mine, they care nothing.

And then I remembered something. A few months or years or whatevers ago I attended a mindfulness session, with Lady Mantle. Do not fret, Lady Mantle was not in charge of proceedings, that would be a different event altogether. A much more appropriate women was in charge, the lovely Gemma, our yoga teacher, with her peach skin voice and ways of fluid gentleness.

Amongst other things that day, Gemma explained to us the concept of RAIN. No, not rain; in North Devon we know quite a lot about that already, there is no call for workshops on the subject. I am talking about RAIN. This particular version of RAIN stands for Recognise, Allow, Investigate, Nurture.

This is my interpretation, please forgive me if I am mistaken, I was in a near trace-like state of relaxation at the time and for this we must blame Gemma. Perhaps it works like this: I recognise my hurt, I allow myself be angry, I attempt to understand why I feel that way and lastly, through self-kindness, I can move forward. Something like that anyway, perhaps you could look it up. It helped, it really did.

You could also admire the pink hull-like flowers of Lobelia bridgesii, they will soothe soul too.

Six on Saturday – Peace

Another day, another Six on Saturday. For the uninitiated, take a look at The Prop’s site and you will soon be up to speed with the inner workings of the sophisticated machine that is SoS. For those of you that wish to witness a plethora of flimsily veiled, Grade A cheekiness then take a look at what Mr K is up to. I can’t believe you actually looked?! I am very disappointed. Best to sweep that under the carpet and proceed with the task at hand, all the while silently weeping.

First, we have a crest fallen rose, a victim of this summer’s ravages. It has been suggested before by your clever selves that it is ‘Peace’. I like it. Both the sentiment and the flower.

Next, the most elegant in flower but languid in habit, Fuchsia glazioviana.

Now a disappointment. Yes, another one. This is, supposedly, Agapanthus inapertus ‘Midnight Cascade’. I have been waiting for it to flower for an age or two. After my initial euphoria, I now believe it to be an imposter. Life is like that sometimes, still the dark stem is rather nice.

On to Campanula ‘Loddon Anna’. It is a relatively new arrival but already has been subjected to the trauma of OH trimming the grisselina behind. Which cost it its first flowering stem. I said nothing. Let me remind you; peace is the preferred option.

Now the glorious Gladiolus papilio ‘Ruby’. I can’t beat glorious I’m afraid.

Lastly, a Dahlia coccinea seedling, dark-leaved and sultry. A great favourite of both myself and the slugs and snails. Sometimes I am not quite so peaceful.

That is yer lot you mottley crew! ‘Til the next time. Be safe and happy, my friends.

Wordless

My words have failed me at the moment. I’ve had a little shufty about and still nothing. I’m sure they’ll come back, they usually do.

Instead I am all action. Just like this ladybird patrolling the sturdy pillar of a cardoon; ever vigilant for aphid infestation and a bit of lunch.

For your information: Greenfly are not my snack of choice, though feel free to send twiglets.

Six on Saturday – Compass Point

It is Six on Saturday time again, which is serving as a welcome compass point. Although hard to believe, the days this week have seemed more confused than ever. Cancellations, rearrangements and future plans, when the future was previously barely credible, have all served to muddy my already murky waters. For that reason it is nice to know that this is Saturday and only Saturday, for that is all it could be. If you wish to discover further benefits to SoS participation, then pop over to The Propagator to find out more, or perhaps even less, my compadres are also often muddled. Let us get on or I will be getting in trouble with the Strict Task Master across the Channel, no Fred, not you, the other Channel.

First, a leaf of Brugmansia ‘Grand Marnier’ and friend. You must forgive for the blurry photograph, it was early morning, before my 100% proof flagon of coffee. During my garden meanderings I spotted this critter and ran (wobbled) back to the house to get my camera. All that exertion was too much for me, hence shake. And no, it was nothing to do with gin. This brugmansia has not thrived, possibly due to being in too small a pot. Last weekend this was rectified, so now has absolutely no excuse not to do something fabulous.

Next, a dear little erodium, nestled in an alpine planter bought lock, stock and barrel from a bargain bin, far, far away. It has subsequently been ignored. Everyone loves a trouper.

Now the absolutely gorgeous Diascia personata, a gift from my friend Chloris. She is not only generous, she also has impeccable taste. Its common name is masked twinspur. After absolutely no research on this matter at all, I can only surmise this is due to its twin spurs which are masked. I wouldn’t quote me on it.

On to a teasel water reservoir. This is son of, son of, son of etc the teasel that hitched a ride from our previous home in Bristol. We love teasels in our house. Although none of the current generations have reached the dizzying heights of their predecessor, all are loved. Next door has a new bird feeder which has attracted a family of goldfinches, hopefully they will still be about to enjoy our offering. Yesterday I was watching a fledgling on the telephone wire outside our bedroom window, gloriously twittering for some grub. A joy.

Now for Impatiens puberala, just coming into flower. A great favourite of mine, although I am sure it would be happier in the ground or living with someone with a better watering ethic.

Lastly Dichelostemma ida-maia, which I featured as a mere shoot in an earlier SoS. It has suffered badly from the onslaught of molluscs. The attack has been relentless. Although the flower is not fully out, I didn’t want to miss this opportunity to share. It might be in the belly of a snail tomorrow.

That’s it, all done for another week. Take care my friends.

Six on Saturday – Nearly

I must admit I have struggled with this week’s Six on Saturday. Everything seems to be nearly photo-ready or past caring, having being munched by slugs and snails. Still, I’ve done the best I can for you and our illustrious leader, who is never nearly but is ever always, See You Later Propagator.

First we have what I imagine to be the common monbretia, Crocosmia x crocosmiiflora . Perhaps it is or perhaps it is something more exotic, no matter. It was in residence when we arrived and is not keen to give up its patch, stealthily marching on. I have dug up a lot of crocosmia in my time. It is in my top ten of irritating plants. Then you look again, back-lit on a sunny evening, and you don’t even have to be desperate to want to include it on your SoS.

Next our Venus Fly Trap. In this instance I say “our” as it was a gift to OH a couple of years ago. He has ignored it ever since. Immediately after purchase it flowered and the given wisdom was that it was doomed. It wasn’t. Although pale, it is still interesting, and catching the odd insect.

Next we have Amaranthus caudatus, which quite frankly is just silly.

This Lantana camara, was brought a few weeks ago. It is still not planted out, but is showing willing. Perhaps this weekend.

Next we have a newby to me, Glebionis segetum, the corn marigold. I grew this from RHS seed, which I chose specially because I hadn’t heard of it before. I am underwhelmed. Although very nice, nice is not what I am after, I want wonderful.

Lastly, it is Peggy’s birthday on Tuesday, so it is only right to include a giraffe as my last contribution. This Sauromatum venosum leaf stalk is perfect.

That is it, another week! Stay safe and well my friends. Na noo na noo!