theharmoniousgarden


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medieval transylvania

Okay okay. I’m aware this started out as a gardening blog (who needs another travel blog, right?!), but I can’t really control myself. Having entered our third ‘winter’ this summer – London temperatures are currently on par with the southern hemisphere’s winter – the gardening scene is decidedly flat around here. Which is why I’m going to share with you some flora and fauna from a recent mini-break to rural Transylvania in central Romania.

The focus of this particular trip was to visit some of the fortified churches that dot the Transylvanian countryside. There are over 150 still surviving, and the one photographed here is in Viscri. And true to form when I’m travelling, I had my camera on ‘macro’ mode to zoom in on the visual feast on display! As you can see from all the insects, this place is positively buzzing with life! And how adorable to see that hundreds of years on the grasses are still bearing flowers (eg comfrey, buttercups, clover, wild berries) most likely around when the church was established back in the 13th century! And the wildflower meadows around the village were sensational!

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And here’s a little bit of trivia for you: after some tough economic times, this region’s local farmers are the leading suppliers of elder flower for the UK drinks market! I’ve been so inspired by my visit to this beautiful region and its abundance of butterflies, bees, and other insects that I’m seriously considering ditching my own domestic gardening attempts and turning my whole garden into an urban wildflower meadow!

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amsterdam

Amsterdam is a seriously awesome city. Regardless of your tastes or interests, you should definitely pay ‘The Dam’ a visit. I was lucky enough to do so over the weekend, and one of the unexpected highlights during my stay was stumbling across the NEMO science centre’s roof terrace in the City’s Oosterdok neighbourhood. I’ve recently taken to abandoning my guides and maps when visiting new places and just following my interests. It’s so much more fun discovering ‘surprises’ than planning everything in advance!

To be fair, the plants themselves were pretty nominal, consisting of little more than a few concrete planters filled with grasses and other nondescript filler plants. But what an awesome public space for the residents and visitors of the city to enjoy. A pulsing stream, games to play, and lazy chairs and beanbags to relax on while enjoying the panorama.

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And one final surprise for me: it turns out the centre was built in 1997 by Mr Renzo Piano, the celebrated architect who designed London’s newest skyscaper, The Shard. Thank you Mr Piano. What beautiful and accessible space you’ve created for everyone to enjoy and take in the sights of Amsterdam.


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it’s all about the grass

I’m so impatient at this time of the year, in this dreary pre-spring gap. I just want to get out into the garden and make a start on this summer’s gardening plans! Winter planter pots, stunning as they may be (especially my own awesome ones), are just not enough. In my quest for some green-themed gratification, I was flicking through photos of last summer’s vacation in the Baltic, and was reminded of how well they do grass there.

It could be said that in some places, grass is relegated to the role of providing a functional surface for walking on (or in some instances to fill boring horizontal spaces). But in Riga, Latvia, grass takes centre stage. From spiky grass with big puffy heads stealing the show in pots, to swirling plantings of textured grass alongside verbena, it was one amazing festival of wholesome green stuff during my visit to Latvia’s capital last August.

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So if there’s one thing I’ve taken from my trip to Riga, it’s be kind to your grass. It can be amazing ;-). I hope you’ve enjoyed this silly and slightly demented post. I’m going to put it down to a likely vitamin D deficiency, most certainly caused by the dreaded February.


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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!!


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man pot

Struggling with garden related gift ideas for that special man in your life? Look no further. Made up of rusty browns and silvers, this autumn planting will complement your fella’s manliness, and bring a lovely autumnal vibe to your garden space.

Also included is a tough nasturtium determined to make it to winter, but the planter mainly features Bronco grass, brown flowering Rubella, Silverdust and white cyclamen. Assemblage time: 15 minutes. Enjoy!!