Friday, August 26, 2016

Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum

Just back from a great holiday on the East coast during which we spent three lovely days in Boston. One of the highlights was our visit to  the  Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum. This is housed in what was the family home of Isabella and John Gardner. Together they traveled widely, collecting Italian Renaissance art, furniture and architectural items. The house she built, that now houses the museum, is somewhat whimsical and said to evoke a 15C Venetian Palace.  The museum was the subject of a major art theft in 1990 when two thieves dressed as police stole 13 major works of art that have never been recovered. Some empty frames still hang on the walls. The museum was first opened to the public in 1903. 

The museum surrounds a beautiful glass roofed courtyard,  that is visible from all sides and from each floor. Isabella had a passion for horticulture and the courtyard itself is a work of art, beautifully designed and exquisitely planted. The floral display in the courtyard is changed throughout the year and includes azaleas, cyclamen, poinsettia in the winter, nasturtiums and delphiniums  in early summer, going through to orchids, chrysanthemums and coleus in the fall. During our visit,  there were pots of the delicate chimney bellflowers, Campanula pyrimidalis in white and blue, together with white hydrangeas all set among lush green ferns and other foliage.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


Right now in Palm Springs we really have rather too much sunshine - not that I'm complaining. With temperatures still over 100F (38C) it's really too hot to enjoy being outside most of the day. Breakfast in the garden is lovely but by mid morning it's too hot for work or relaxation. However one of the reasons I came to Palm Springs was for the year-round sunshine and I don't regret it! Back in the UK I used to suffer from SAD - Seasonal Affective Disorder and, in the winter when it was dull and sunless, my mood would drop considerably - here with all this sun, I might be accused of being hyperactive! 

Anyway - reviewing pictures for a magazine article reminded me how light levels affect our gardens and plants. Photographers have known this for years but it still amazes me that the right light creates shadows and highlights that just make plants and flowers sing! I'm really no great photographer - I'm more of a point and shoot guy -  but some of the following pics will show you what I mean by light and plants.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Its too darn hot!

It's hot here in Palm Springs - VERY HOT! with temperatures exceeding 110F (that's 43C for my UK friends) on a daily basis, it's just too hot to be outside after an early breakfast. Garden work is restricted to a few quick jobs in early morning. Sadly there's not much of interest to report about my yard. On one occasion a couple of weeks ago, the temperature reached 121F (49C), almost touching the all-time record.  The result has been a rather devastating amount of scorch and some losses. I don't recall so much damage last summer and not surprisingly,  days over 110F already exceed last year's records.  So if I were to write about my garden, it would be a sorry tale of woe and some rather miserable pictures of incinerated plants. Instead a little floral color of my own making!

Having to escape indoors for much of the day, I have been trying to paint on a daily basis. And as I haven't inflicted my painting on you recently, here are some of the newer ones. Inevitably there are lots of flowers!

However I've been trying to be adventurous and to paint different subjects and in a looser style. There have been quite a few hitting the failure pile - these are some of the better ones!   Its been fun and challenging.