October 25, 2014

Book Review: Sissinghurst. Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden



If enchantment by English gardens was ever part of your inspiration this book is definitely for you.  Vita Sackville-West, the British poet, together with her husband Harold, created the beauty of iconic British garden – Sissinghurst. Harold created the structure, Vita filled it with plantings. It doesn’t happen often that the garden outlives its creators, but today still Sissinghurst is one of the most visited and inspirational gardens in the world.

Sissinghurst is the garden that inspires many gardeners and garden designers. The book is packed with lots of information about how Sissinghurst was created, what challenges were faced and how they managed to turn weaknesses into strengths. You will find the detailed  descriptions how in the design they successfully camouflaged the exccentricities of the land, that today you can’t spot it. 

This is the book for everyone who was ever enchanted by the English gardens. 

“Sissingurst. Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden” is a selection of original articles published by Vita in gardening column in the Observer From 1946 to 1957 made by Sarah Raven, the co-author of the book, famous British gardener who is married to Vita's grandson Adam Nicolson. 

The book consists of 3 Parts:
- The People and the Place
- Vita’s Garden Themes
- The Smaller Canvas

What's important, this book consists of writings, not photos only. There are not too many colored photos of the garden, which is a plus, because you want to understand what is behind the photos, not just admire eye-candy. The author included enough amount of current photos to see its beauty, layouts and planting composition. There is many black and white historical photos of the palace and the gardens to see the work in progress.  

You could ask yourself if there is anything for you in the writings of a lady from over 50 years ago? I firmly confirm that you will find lots of tips and practical advice. Just to give you a sample of the writing: “Too severe formality is almost as repellant as lack of any” or “Eremurus which looks like a cathedral spire flushed warm in the sunset”.

You may also learn about Vita’s preferences not only about plants, but also about the renovation of Sissinghurst and her own possessions: “Vita allowed her possessions to age, skills to wear, wood to darken, terracotta to chip and fail. (…) Her possessions must grow old with her. She must be surrounded by evidence of time (…)”. 

What I find especially useful is the index of plants, shrubs and trees at the end of the book, very helpful in daily work, if I would like to get back and make sure about certain plants.  

My rating: 10 out of 10 stars

This book is one of the best gardening books ever – and for good reason. It’s a must read for those starting a garden or dreaming about English garden.

Get your copy of Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden

Have you read any great gardening books? Give your recommendations with your reasons why in comments below. Looking forward to discovering some great gardening books.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2014
Pages: 382
Available here: Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden
ISBN: 978-1-250-06005-1

October 22, 2014

3 Orchids that Look Like an Animal

Orchids produce some of the most beautiful and unique flowers in the world.  Recently, they have become one of the most common house plants you can buy and are available everywhere.  What most people don’t realize is just how many different Orchid species there are and how amazing they can be.

With over 20,000 Orchid species recognized today, you can’t even imagine some of the flowers they produce.  They can be small, medium, large, and in any colors but black and blue.  Some look like Tulips, while others look like Donkeys and Monkeys.  Orchids have adapted to become some of the most fascinating plants in the world.

Many Orchids have success in attracting insects to pollinate them by mimicking the other sex.  Fly Orchids, for example, produce flowers that look and smell like female flies.  This attracts the male flies to attempt to reproduce, spreading the pollen in the process.  They then move to the next flower and bring pollen that with them.

Donkey Orchids



These Orchids produces funny looking flowers that many people believe look like a donkey.  That’s how the Diuris Orchid got the nickname “Donkey Orchid”.  Growing mostly in Australia and Tasmania, this flower needs warm temperatures during the growing season.  During the winter, they go dormant and shrivel up to protect themselves from the cold.

The large Donkey-looking flowers grow on stems up to 3 feet high and typically stay together in clumps.  The 2 large lateral petals that create the look of donkey ears, are what attract bees to come pollinate the flower.  They flower between July and November, and the seeds mature in a matter of weeks after pollination. 

Monkey Face Orchids

The Dracula Simia Orchid has earned the nicknames “Monkey Orchid” and “Monkey Face Orchid” for obvious reasons.  The flowers they produce look just like the face of a Monkey.  These flowers grow in the mountains of Ecuador and are accustomed to cooler temperatures and high humidity.  The flowers are also said to be scented like ripe oranges to attract monkeys. 

These Orchids produce a large number of stems from the base of the plant.  Each stem produces one amazing flower.  These flowers can bloom at any time of the year which could lead to flowers throughout the entire year under perfect conditions.  These are one of the most unique Orchids that you will find.

Flying Duck Orchids

These are one of my personal favorite Orchids in the world.  The flowers they produce look just like a duck flying through the air.  These Orchids grow in Australia in warm climates that provide moist conditions.  You will find them in coastal and swampy areas, sometimes even at higher altitudes.
The flying duck flowers are very small and not noticeable in the wild unless you know what you are looking for.  The unique shape attracts insects, mainly sawflies, to come investigate and pollinate the flower.  The flowers grow on tall green stems, reaching 20 inches from the ground.

For more information on Orchids that look like animals click here

How to improve your ways on growing: Orchids For Dummies

October 19, 2014

Ewa in the Garden on the list of top 50 gardening blogs at Garden Bloggers Conference, Atlanta, 2014


I would like to say big thank you to all my regular and occasional viewers that come here to see and and view what life bringh to my garden path. Without you I wouldn't be on the list of top 50 gardening blogs published by Garden Bloggers Conference 2014 in Atlanta.
Really appreciate! Hope to see you returning :)

If you are a blogger and would like to improve your blogging, I would like to share with you my secret. I have learned a lot from tips of Darren Rowse, you can find it here: ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income

Xoxo,
Ewa

October 18, 2014

Pinheiros Altos

Visiting a friend living in Pinheiros Altos (Algarve, Portugal). Some weeks ago.
Utmost simplicity and elegance. 
As vertical structure featuring stone pines (Pinus pinea). Its dynamic shapes contrasted with rounded shapes of pruned shrubs. Harmonious and balanced.
See the shape of the pool? If you need to pay for something  make sure you make it right.

The Grown-Up's Guide to Running Away from Home: Making a New Life Abroad

Have a nice weekend!  
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