Sunday, May 14, 2006

Horticultural lies and half-truths

When I first came to Britain - almost ten years ago exactly - there were two places that I really wanted to visit that maybe aren't on the usual tourist circuit. Number one was Powis Castle in Wales, from which the Powis Castle artemisia draws its name (I still haven't been - it's in Mid-Wales, hard to get to - we arrived on Wednesday only to discover it's closed on a Wednesday). And I wanted to see the laburnum arch - the famous laburnum arch - at Bodnant Gardens* in North Wales.

I had seen a black and white photo of the laburnum arch at Bodnant Gardens* and I wanted to see it in all of its glorious and sunny yellowness. The laburnum trees carefully arched together over a frame hidden by flowers and foliage - the graceful yellow flowers draping sweetly and gently overhead as you walk through what's more of a tunnel than an arch.

The Vol-in-Law, VolMom, VolBro and I went together and I was so excited. We went straight to the laburnum arch and it was in full bloom. But like many things built up in the mind - it failed to match my expectations. It was lower and closer than I imagined. We all stood around and kind of wondered what the fuss was about. Then I sat down on the ground, I lay prone and finally the perspective came clear. That's how it had been photographed. I snapped a picture, too. And there it was in full color - the fabulous laburnum arch of Bodnant Gardens. Back in the states - there were oohs and ahs - but I knew it wasn't all that really.

And so the cycle of horticultural half-truths continues. I was drawn by the picture with the misleading perspective. I arrived, took a photo with a misleading perspective and perhaps drew others to visit.

In Richmond Deer Park not too far from our house, they're trying to establish a laburnum walk - same concept. It's not as old and filled in as the one at Bodnant gardens, but suffers from the same problems of dimensions and space. The photo below isn't nearly as good as the one I took with my old 35mm SLR, but it's taken from the same position - flat on my back.

laburnum walk

*Bodnant Gardens is still absolutely worth a visit - magical woodland valley gardens planted in a naturalistic style. The gardener who created it had future vision that went beyond a season or two - but thought years ahead to vistas framed by mature trees.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Evertytime I think of Bodnant Gardens I think of the blue poppies that stole my gardening heart away. Even more so, since I know that I could never grow them except in a sunny, moist refrigerator. They will always be a part of the memory of that trip.