In a vase on Monday: London

Last week, we were in London, and, walking around Whitehall, I discovered the 18th century Blewcoat School building and this beautiful botanical display.

I thought I would share it for today’s “In a vase. . .,” since I haven’t been able to buy flowers, and nothing is blooming in the yard (although I think I will see primroses along the fence by next week).


The building now houses a fancy bridal shop, Ian Stewart.


Why the use of onions, I’m not sure — they do seem to be cooking onions and not ornamental Alliums. There may be a connection to unity and wholeness (round, concentric layers).  One website said onions were once given as marriage presents during the Middle Ages.

A chair covered in twigs.

At the side of the building.

To see what other bloggers have put in a vase today, please visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

The Sunday porch: Detroit Lakes

Fairyland Cottages, West Lake Lane, Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, 1980, by John Margolies, via John Margolies Roadside America archive, Library of Congress Commons on flickr.

The twelve cabins were built in 1938, modeled (roughly) after the cottage in Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. They were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989. Unfortunately, this did not protect them from demolition in 2008 — burned by the fire department in a training exercise. There are two condominium buildings on the site now.

Normandy courtyard


The courtyard of Le Normandy Hotel, Deauville, France, August 8, 1920, an autochrome by Georges Chevalier, via Archives of the Planet Collection – Albert Kahn Museum /Département des Hauts-de-Seine.

Such pretty little green chairs; here’s another photo. . .

Inside the Cour Normande, ca. 1925, a postcard by Levy et Neurdein Reunis, via pellethepoet on flickr, under CC license.

The 5-star hotel was built in an Anglo-Norman style in 1912.  It appeared in the 1996 “The Murder on the Links” episode of Agatha Christies’ Poirot with David Suchet. Today, the courtyard looks much the same as it did in the 1920s, although the chairs and tables have been replaced with more little trees.

The image at the top is one of about seventy-two thousand that were commissioned and then archived by Albert Kahn, a wealthy French banker and pacifist, between 1909 and 1931. Kahn sent thirteen photographers and filmmakers to fifty countries “to fix, once and for all, aspects, practices, and modes of human activity whose fatal disappearance is no longer ‘a matter of time.'”* The resulting collection is called Archives de la Planète and now resides in its own museum at Kahn’s old suburban estate at Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris. Since June 2016, the archive has also been available for viewing online here.


*words of Albert Kahn, 1912. Also, the photo at the top (A 23 019) is © Collection Archives de la Planète – Musée Albert-Kahn and used under its terms, here.

Zion path

It’s National Trails Day.
Trail, Zion Natl Park, Utah, 1980s, Library of CongressDetail of the West Rim Trail, looking southwest, Zion National Park, Washington County, Utah, 1984, by Clayton B. Fraser, via Historic American Engineering Record, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The trail opened in 1926 and was paved in 1929 with oil mixed with sand and rock.  It was later repaved in concrete, most recently in 2007.

“Built of native stone and associated with the “National Park Service-Rustic” architectural style, the West Rim Trail possesses architectural integrity,” says the Record.  “Rock used in the masonry switchback walls was quarried locally and shaped as little as possible to provide a rough appearance, yet stable construction.”  You can read more here.

My Chelsea list

While we’re all waiting for the Chelsea Flower Show to open next week and for pictures to emerge, here are a few things that I particularly liked when I visited the original Chelsea — the Chelsea Physic Garden — about a week and a half ago.

The four-acre London garden was founded in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries in order to grow medicinal plants and train their apprentices. It is the second oldest botanic garden in Britain, after the one at Oxford.

1. The Pond Rockery area (also shown at the top). The sides are planted in Mediterranean and alpine plants.

2. This giant fennel. It was a beacon in the Botanical Order Beds at about 8′ tall.

It did not have a label, but I have since looked it up — Ferula communes.

The species is part of the carrot family, Apiaceae. (Common fennel belongs to another genus, Foeniculum.)

This tamarix in the center of the beds was a star too.

3. The plant supports of bamboo, string, and shrub and vine cuttings.

4. This neat little kitchen garden arrangement and its beautiful cardoons.

And the nearby beehives.

5. This trunk of a Catalpa bignonioide, which is supporting a huge Rosa Brunoni or Himalayan musk rose.

The rest of the tree was cut off.  It may have died, but it may also have been too large for the space.

6. The greenhouse area.

Plants from the Canary Islands, Madeira, The Azores, and St. Helena.

7. This primrose display, which — with the giant fennel — made my “most desired” list that day (along with this).

8. My tea towel from the gift shop.

(And the café is excellent.)