theharmoniousgarden


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(dead) moss

Last weekend I stumbled across the most stunning preserved moss wall. My friend and I were in Milan for a mini-break to see Da Vinci’s The Last Supper, and climb the roof of the famous Duomo. Wow. Both experiences left us with a strange tingly feeling, and definitely lived up to our expectations. It rained heavily the entire weekend, and it was while going from one shelter to the next that this bright green wall caught my attention. It was inside a design store called Sicis – it has some of THE most extravagant and outrageous furniture you can imagine – in the stylish Brera district of Milan. From outside on the street, I couldn’t tell if it was alive or fake, but on closer inspection (after the salesperson welcomed us into the store), it turned out to be made entirely of preserved mosses and ferns . The salesperson explained it is made by drying out the plants, without any artificial dyes, and will last up to 10 years if kept out of direct sunlight.

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I’m not sure if I would want one in my own home (or could afford one), but it’s certainly striking and makes a great impact. For more examples of preserved moss walls, check here. Thoughts?!

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hanging gardens of barbican

A few weeks ago my partner arranged a ‘mystery’ weekend activity for us. Because I’m very good at guessing, I wasn’t given a single clue as to where we were going. To my delight, our destination was the Barbican Centre in the City of London. (For those who don’t know, the Centre is located within the Barbican Estate, a huge multipurpose complex of high-rise residential, civic, theatre and community buildings, built in London’s celebrated but divisive Brutalist architectural style.) We’ve been to the Barbican several times before at different times of the year, and personally I can’t get enough of the place. But the purpose of this adventure, and a complete surprise to me, was to visit the conservatory. Initially designed as an afterthought to ‘disguise’ the theatre’s fly tower, it’s a fantastic sub-tropical oasis (and arid desert!) in the sky.

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Shakespeare Tower

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Koi pool

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Giant bamboo

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Strelitzia reginae… otherwise known as ’emu flower’ in my native country

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Love this! like a psychedelic shamrock!

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Succulent close-up

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Cacti garden

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Bridge over the stream

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The fly tower

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Finches

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View out of the conservatory onto the rooftop terrace… about 6 levels up here

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Restaurants and bars to the left, apartments on pedestals on the right. The theatre is behind the restaurants, and the conservatory up the top and well out of sight

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Definitely coming back here in the summer for a vino (or two!)

As you can see from the photos, we almost had the garden to ourselves. A quick google search shows that the conservatory isn’t really a secret, but it was such a joy to discover a unique garden space in the heart of the city open for all to appreciate while at the same time not over-run and therefore spoilt. And you can even get married in the gardens if you wish!! I hope you enjoyed these photos of the Barbican Conservatory as much as I did.


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winter gardens at the people’s palace

With families abroad and friends out of town, my partner and I decided to take a roadtrip around Scotland over Christmas. Like the rest of the UK, it poured (almost) the entire time. It didn’t matter, because the country is so beautiful you don’t even notice the rain. As long as you’re wrapped in plastic and have your wellies on.

We started our vacation in Glasgow, and some friendly locals suggested we head to the People’s Palace, a museum of social history for the city. While I enjoyed the museum, what I (and the Glaswegians, I suspect) love most are the attached winter gardens.

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To be fair, it was unashamedly indulgent with all manner of tropical and subtropical plants jammed in together (they even had cunjevoi – an Australian native I haven’t seen since my childhood!). But hey, we’re talking about the people’s palace, so why should it be restrained?! And with its giant Christmas tree, mass plantings of poinsettia, and Magic FM piped through the overhead speakers, it was the perfect start to our Scottish Christmas adventure.


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eco garden

Last year my friends and I ventured south of the river for the Cheese and Wine Festival on London’s Southbank. It turned out we got the dates wrong, so we missed out. We managed to go this weekend, and the food, coffee and cakes were amazing. But if I’m honest, what I enjoyed most about the whole adventure was discovering the attractive eco garden and green walls set up on the stairs leading up to the Queen Elizabeth Hall.

Alpine plants, ferns, grasses, strawberries, and herbs, all in a native-style planting requiring next to no maintenance. They must have looked stunning through the summer, but the autumn colours were also attractive.

I’ve seen a few green walls this year, including at the Olympics where they were used to cover temporary structures, however we definitely need more eco gardens and green walls!!