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Archive for the ‘flâneur’ Category


I’m a terrible flâneur, it seems. I let my husband fly to London for the weekend on an impulse, and I didn’t go with him. That’s just awful and unforgivable, I’m sure. On the day of reckoning, this is one of the (many?) things I shall have to answer for.

Instead I went up to the garden on Friday after work, but absolutely failed as a gardener by choosing to go back to town already on the Saturday afternoon, since I really just wanted to lie back on the sofa and watch some crappy TV and play some PlayStation. “PlayStation over perennials”, resounds the chorus from the internet, “BUT THAT’S APPALLING!”

I know. But… Yeah, I just wanted to lie back and do nothing at all, so there we go.

The only thing I got done on Saturday was this:

Before

There’s a somewhat nondescript shrub growing at the corner of the covered terrace, and it’s really getting too large. Sure, the bees love its flowers in spring and it produces pretty red berries in late summer, but it was just too big.

After

So chop-chop I went with the hedge clippers, and it’s now at the same level as the fence around the terrace. It has opened up the terrace to the garden, and the “stubbles” will soon be covered by the perennial sweet peas that grow rampant through it, so there’s no great loss, except that the terrace feels less enclosed which can be seen as a good or a bad thing. I’m not sure which side I’m on, but the deed has been done.

(And come autumn I’ll probably chop it even lower so there’s room for next year’s growth without it becoming too big again. It’s rather too vigorous a shrub for that position, really!)

Anyway, I went home on Saturday, and I rode my bike down to the station (20km) and had a really lovely time of it.

Multiple suns

It seems my iPhone doesn’t think it was sunny enough, so the camera decided to add some more suns to the image. Not sure if this is really a good thing, but it certainly looks rather curious! (I never had that problem with my old phone, even when shooting pics directly into the sun…)

It is harvest time, so at times clouds of dust would blow over the road from one of the combine harvesters working the fields of the Jægerspris Castle estate, and somehow that smell just brought me back to my childhood when my Dad would go help my paternal grandparents with the harvest, or when my brothers and I were holidaying alone with my maternal grandparents in the last week of the summer hols (every year we did this; it gave my parents a nice break from having three sons around the house all summer!). People who’ve never ridden on – or driven – a combine harvester or tractor during the harvest probably don’t realise just how much dust is produced, and it gets absolutely everywhere. And the smell is just, well… I love it, but others might hate it, especially if they have a tendency to be allergic to stuff.

Harvest

And for good measure I also visited a stone age tomb I passed on the way; the mound has been “re-vamped” in the 18th century in terraces and geometric tree planting, so it’s difficult to know how much of the tomb chamber is really original. One thing is for certain; they moved the entrance, since the Danish stone age burial chambers where always at a straight angle to the entrance corridor, and this one is in continuation of it.

Tomb

Still, it’s rather impressive to think that this structure was built 5000 years ago. We currently only have about 500 of these burial chambers left – in carious states of repair or decay – but archeologists estimate that there might have been up to 40,000 of them. Sadly many were in the way of farming, and many stones were recycled as building material, but the remaining monuments are somehow magical; a travel in time.

 

Oh, it’s a gardening blog? Sure. Have a rose!

L.D. Braithwaite

This is the latest bloom on The Flâneur Husband’s birthday roses from my parents, and though the picture doesn’t show it, the flower is actually redder and less “H0TT PINK!!!1!” than the previous blooms. I suspect the amount of rain and sunshine has made a difference, and I also suspect that in a less sunny part of the garden, this rose would bloom a truer red. Still, it’s gorgeous, and it’s staying where it is!

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We had our annual Summer Party in the garden yesterday. An al fresco lunch for as many friends as want to come, followed by an afternoon and evening of frolicking, croquet, kubb (an old Viking game that has become popular again as a garden game over the past 5-10 years after a thousand years of obscurity) and far too much alcohol.

It’s always lovely, but there IS a certain joy to saying goodbye to the last guests on Sunday around noon once the dishes have been done and the garden restored to some sort of normalcy (i.e. the bottles and cans have been picked up, the games have been packed away and the furniture is no longer clumped in the middle of the lawn around the fire pit.

Now it’s just me and the birds in the garden again; I even sent the Flâneur Husband back to the city to nurse his hangover with pizza, sofa and telly while I nurse mine with left-overs from yesterday and a few perennials that need planting and moving.

Tomorrow is the end of my summer holiday (one week in early July and then last week), and I think I need to see if I can take another week off some time in late August. The garden is mainly in decent shape, though some corners – like the vegetable garden – have been completely neglected all year. We haven’t even moved the lawn around the vegetable beds, which kind of shows how little that area has been used…

Anyway, who wants to read words, right? Everybody loves a photo, so:

Puddles in the rain

Yeah… It rained pretty heavily this afternoon. And those white streaks ARE ropes of rain… (And yes, this photo was taken almost blindly, since I had to cover my phone with the brim of my cap… focusing on a screen one inch from your eyes is just not feasible!)

Note how only one Puddle is actually visible this year… (The other two to the right of the stormy one are mainly hidden by the planting, however tumble-down the plants might be.) To the left of the “visible” left Puddle I have planted some iris germanica that I grew from seed two years ago and left in tiny pots for years; they should be happy enough here, and they should soon shield the last puddle from view. After all, The Puddles are only intended to be seen in glimpses, so that’s why I’ve surrounded them with fairly tall perennials with somewhat over-hanging habits – from right to left it’s iris siberica, hosta (unknovn variety from my childhood garden but with plain green foliage and mauve flowers), sedum (another unknown variety from my childhood garden) and finally the iris germanica.

To allow for glimpses of the water, though, I’ve planted low ground covers at the front; from right to left it’s alchemilla mollis (Lady’s Mantle), wild strawberries and some unknown groundcovering plant that I weeded from the Courtyard; it has pretty enough foliage and when established it will have yellow flowers throughout summer. To hold the – preliminary – corner of the area by The Puddles I’ve transplanted a white-flowering plant that grows like a weed here – though it’s certainly a garden plant of sorts.

-Okay, so that plant just went out during a break in my writing; instead this corner is now the site of the newly purchased day lily hemerocallis Frans Hals. It does mean I’ll have an awful lot of spiky leaves around The Puddles (three different types of iris AND the day lilies), but the rest of the planting should soften that impression, and either way day lilies will add some blooms at a season when the rest of the flowers are either budding (the sedums and asters) or spent (the irises, astrantia and lady’s mantle).

The Sunny Border - in the rain

I’ve also made a change to The Sunny Border since this photo was taken. The Japanese anemones seem to dislike the conditions here – though I’ve seen them do well in full sun in the gardens of the Royal Library in Copenhagen – so I moved some of them from the far end of this border to make room for some other newly purchased day lilies hemerocallis Double Firecracker.

The Flâneur Husband has complained about his birthday present, the three roses my parents gave him. I picked out the variety and ordered them, knowing he loves red roses, but the L.D.Braithwaite roses very quickly turns decidedly hot pink rather than red once they are blooming. I guess that’s what red roses do when they get full sun; my other red rose – torn from the ground with my bare hands as I rescued plants from the destruction – is turning that same colour even though it used to bloom truly dark red in its old location is half-shade.

Have I mentioned I love my garden?

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I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

(The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost 1920)

Come, join me on a flâneur commute to the garden:

Today I decided that rather than take the train and bus up to the Summer House I’d bring my bike on the train and then cycle the 18km (11 miles) from the station to the house in Kulhuse.

Okay, so it ended up being a lot longer and taking more time than originally planned, because the weather was lovely, and when travelling by bicycle you have the option of taking detours and doing sightseeing, which is not really possible on a bus.

For the first 8 kilometres, though, I followed the main road up to Jægerspris village. First of all it is a pretty stretch of road and second of all it has a great bicycle track along the road.

The FjordWhether by bus or by bike, when I cross the bridge over Roskilde Fjord I always feel a sense of calm; I’m leaving the World behind on the other side of the Fjord and retreating to a simpler place.

Bicycle TrackThis is the bicycle track along the road, so you can both see the beauty of the road and the practicality of having the bicycle track (centre) apart from the road (in the left of the photo).

Bike

In Jægerspris village I turned off the main road into the grounds of Jægerspris Castle. After this point there is no bicycle track along the road, and the road becomes very straight, so cars tend to go very fast on the narrow road and it’s just not a nice place for a cyclist if you can avoid it.

Instead I opted for the forest lanes and tracks, which are perhaps a bit rougher but also immensely more pleasant.

Monument to Gerluf Trolle and Birgitte Gøie

The castle grounds are scattered with monuments to the Great and Good men (and VERY few women) of Denmark. This particular monument is actually for a married couple from the 1500’s, Herluf Trolle and Birgitte Gøye, and in many ways she was probably more important than him.

Forest Puddle

The forest North of Jægerspris is wonderful. It’s a mixed forest of beech, oak, birch, fir and pine – and the odd other tree in-between. Parts of it is still run as a commercial logging forest, but most of it retains the air of the old royal hunting grounds with dense undergrowth in places, open clearings in others and small puddles and ponds scattered throughout.

FieldsIn places the track suddenly opens up and you cross a short stretch of fields before returning to the forest. I love the contrast of coming from the enclosed, shaded forest track out into the open where the sky is high and the barley moves in the wind.

Forest Pond

This pond was absolutely gorgeous. You could only just glimpse it from the track, so I got off my bike and stumbled through the bracken and honeysuckle until I got to the edge of it. On the far side of the pond you can just about make out a few white dots of the flowering wild water lilies.

Snoegen - The Twisted Oak

This is Snoegen, the twisted oak, one of the three famous oak trees in our local forest. I’ve never gotten around to seeing more than one of them, so I took a few detours to include them all in my trip. The last living branch fell off the tree in 1991, so now the only leaves on the tree are ferns and a small sapling oak that has sown itself in a gap and is now growing in the decomposing tree.

It’s difficult to tell the actual age of these old oaks, but the twisted oak is estimated to be around 8-900 years old.

Kongeegen - The King's OakThe King’s Oak is the only one of the three large oaks that’s still alive, though it too is in a rather decrepit state. Its age is estimated to anything from 1400 to 2000 years, making it a likely candidate for the title as the oldest living organism in Northern Europe.

The oak used to have a 14-meter circumference, but one of the main branches has fallen down, taking a huge section of the trunk with it, so now the tree is only a small fragment of what it once was. The photo is taken from the “back side” of the tree.

It was never a very tall oak, though, and in fact all the old oaks are rather short and stubbly, indicating that the landscape around them when they formed their main shapes was probably open land, rather than forest as today. And the forest is part of the reason that the old oaks die; they have been smothered by taller trees around them, and the last one living may or may not be only one winter storm away from dying.

Storkeegen - The Stork Oak
Still, there is a certain grace to a slow decay. This is the Stork Oak, named after an 1843 painting entitled “Oak with stork nest in the North Forest by Jægerspris”. The last living branch fell in a winter storm in 1980, and the trunk is completely hollow. The shorter section to the left in the photo is actually taller than me, just to give some scale to it.

This is the youngest of the three oaks, estimated at around 700 years, and it was the only one I had seen previously. All the oaks are within walking distance of the summer house if you take a 2-3 hour walk in the woods, so it’s appalling that I haven’t seen them all before.

The meadows by the fjordAnd then the track reaches the meadows by the fjord where cattle graze the marsh. This is the sort of landscape that used to be where the summer house now lies; back in the 1950’s a lot of farmers made a lot of money by transforming poor agricultural land – including pastures – to plots for holiday homes in this area (and indeed in many other coastal areas of Denmark) as the post-WWII austerity quickly moved towards a time when the working class became middle class.

Our cul-de-sac of holiday home plots was created in 1952, and back then there wasn’t a single tree here and even the plots closest to the road had a view of the fjord. Now, though, it’s difficult to recognise the meadow when you look at all the mature trees. The only way you can tell the story of the landscape now is by digging into the soil where it is quite obvious that just under the fertile top soil there is clay sediments with various sea shells from when this was part of the fjord. (Or you could go down and look at the dike and the pumping station that does its best to prevent the area from flooding during heavy rain…)

Cactus Dahlia

My journey ended here, with another dahlia blooming in the garden. In fact there are quite a few now, though it’s still not quite the fireworks border that I hope it will be a bit later in summer. This one is another one grown from seed, and I quite like how it seems to be a semi-double cactus hybrid. One of the wonders of buying mixed seeds is that you don’t know what you’re getting, so you have the element of surprise!

 

I should have taken this trip a long time ago. Many times. In fact, if I omitted all the detours and just took the direct route – and went at a normal pace, rather than taking it as flânerie-au-vélo – it wouldn’t take much longer than going by bus, and of course it would remove the reliance on the rather erratic bus schedule. Sure, I might not do it in the pouring rain, but then I have the bus as a back-up.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed sightseeing with me!

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Last night I got back after four days in Paris with the Flâneur Husband, so here’s an image dump with a little text:

Yes, I figured I’d start with the most garden-related pictures from our visit to Jardin Des Plantes, the botanical gardens where I used to go a lot when I lived in Paris ages and ages ago. It was actually the Flâneur Husband who suggested we could go see a garden, and this was definitely my first idea. And I’d never been into the greenhouses, so it was great to see them from the inside.

And of course we also saw lots and lots of the city in general, strolling around from one pavement café to the next – and enjoying that the weather, although changing, was mainly clement and only once gave us a real drenching. Most of the pictures I took on my solitary morning walks, since I wake up rather early and had a couple of hours to myself each morning before the husband awoke.

View from Pont Neuf towards Pont des Arts

Notre Dame de Paris

It means that some of the pictures were taken in a rather murky morning half-light, but it also means there were very few people around.

Place des Vosges

Tree decked out with books on Carrefour de l’Odéon – opposite Café Les Èditeurs

*sigh*

I do love going back to Paris; it really is an amazingly beautiful city, and one that I think I will always to some extent think of as “Home”, since it was the place I moved to when I had finished high school and moved out of my parents’ house.

Place de la Bastille

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It’s Flâneur Time!


G. Caillebotte - Un balcon (1880)

Gustave Caillebotte
Un balcon (1880)

Right, so I’m off to the airport any minute now for a 4-day weekend with the Flâneur Husband.

Lots of good food, strolls around the city and general enjoyment of Life. I can’t wait!

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Castle Fraser

Snapshot from another castle outing…

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Scottish Spring


image

Just a snapshot from my not-so-sunny Easter holiday in Aberdeen.

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