Posts Tagged ‘ japanese gardens ’

That Time of Year Again

Autumn, and a primeval urge of overwhelming force drives the salmon up mighty rivers to spawn in the remote headwaters that witnessed their own conception. Likewise, in another of nature’s spectacular seasonal rituals, vast herds of photographers feel compelled to visit the nearest wood and take snaps of fallen leaves. Not to be left out, here are a couple I spawned recently.

oak apples

Oak apples

spangle galls on an oak leaf

Spangle galls

Off to Kyoto tomorrow morning, so a restful silence will ensue until I return with far too many pictures of crimson maple leaves strewn across elegantly raked gravel. Sayonara to all.

The Blog is Back

The summer seems to have passed in a long soggy flash, if you can imagine such a thing. I can’t believe I’ve not blogged since March – I plead far too much travel in mitigation. Repeated trips to the Veneto, to Sicily and Malta and a long visit to Japan resulted in an appalling deluge of pictures and an unwillingness to spend further time in front of the computer. I’m just back from Venice having completed my part of Gardens of Venice & the Veneto.¬†A lot of fun to shoot thanks to the huge efforts of the author, the talented and beautiful Jenny Condie who has tracked down some extraordinary new places for our book, as well as the usual suspects. Among them are a Masonic garden with a skull-shaped grotto, a subterranean aquarium, monasteries, mazes and, this being the Veneto, more stone dwarfs than you can shake a stick at (if that’s your idea of a good time, as the great Groucho used to say). All this is just to whet your appetites – no pictures until nearer publication, I’m afraid. Well all right, just one –

Palazzo Soranzo Cappello, Venice

During my time off I found it impossible to take many photographs in Venice. Too many familiar views, too many cameras (and iPhones and iPads), too easy to take a quick snap instead of looking. I rather agree with those tribes who are said to believe that photographs steal their souls, and I begin to think that it may be true of places as well. I did succumb on occasion, though, particularly as one visit coincided with the annual Regata Storica.

Racing gondolas on the lagoon

the regata storico

Racing on the Grand Canal

the regata storico

A fanfare for a Doge

Further afield I’m working on a book on Zen temple gardens. I begin to understand a little more about these remarkable places, and how to look at them. The Japanese passion for stones became clear to me when I found this specimen, whose textured surface reveals a whole landscape.

Stone at Myoshinji

My last trip to Kyoto coincided with firefly season. Above the stream near my hotel the air was full of them, whirling up like sparks from a bonfire

Firefly

Shoden-ji, Kyoto

Todai-ji, Nara – the largest wooden building in the world

And finally, for those of you who are local, I’m sharing a small exhibition – In Our Empty Rooms – at the Sidney Nolan Trust of work made in collaboration with the sculptor Justine Cook, from the 13th-20th October. It will be a pleasure to see you at the opening on Friday 12th October, 5-7 pm. More information at www.sidneynolantrust.org

A new feature – La Foce, Tuscany

wisteria at la foce

Wisteria tunnel at La Foce

An appropriately spring-like feature in the current issue of Country Life magazine¬† (21st April edition) is Helena Attlee’s piece about the garden of La Foce in Tuscany, made by Cecil Pinsent for Iris Origo and her husband in the 1930’s. One of its major features is the wisteria tunnel, which we were lucky enough to find in full flower when we visited it last May.

I’m just back from a short trip to Cornwall, where I went to photograph the amazing magnolias at Caerhays Castle, some of the trees being as large as a full-grown elm – an astonishing sight, though so high that I really should have brought a field camera with me. Nikon make a couple of good lenses with a fair range of movements – may have to be this summer’s expensive acquisition.

magnolia

Magnolia at Caerhays Castle

The Gardens of Japan continues to do reasonably well – the French edition has now sold out so they’re reprinting there too, and it had a good review from Robin Lane Fox in Saturday’s FT – you can read it here.

Fire Down Below

house on fire

Central heating

A couple of heat-related matters this week. The first involved waking early on Saturday morning to find a huge column of smoke rising into a clear sky from the derelict house over the road. It was a strange, quiet, unhurried scene – a couple of fire engines and three or four early morning spectators idly watching the firemen go about their business. A perfect fire, really; nobody hurt, a rather ugly house (deserted for years) destroyed, the whole thing giving entirely innocent pleasure to all who saw it.

The second thought inevitably involves the real fire down below, i.e. the one underneath Iceland. I may be behind the times on this, but it seems odd that no-one has yet mentioned Dunkirk. Surely here is the model for the way to repatriate desperate British families marooned in a garlic-smelling ashy mist on the Continent, surrounded by untrustworthy foreigners. Small-boat sailors of Britain, now is your hour! (An update – it looks as if real life has caught up with me, to judge by the latest news)

Finally, I’m pleased to say that The Gardens of Japan is already being reprinted, less than a month after publication. Onward and upward!

No Such Thing As A Free Launch

Well, that’s got The Gardens of Japan off to a good start. A hundred or so friends, family and acqaintances came and made a determined attempt to drink us dry in the intervals of saying nice things to Helena and I about the book. They bought a copy or three as well, I’m relieved to say. David & Sara Bamford generously offered us their beautiful new cafe and gallery as a location for the launch and the accompanying small exhibition. A very good evening altogether, and we even managed, just, to cover the cost of putting it on. Gone, alas,¬† are the glory days when books went hurtling down the slipway awash with the publisher’s champagne.

Book launch

some of the multitude

If you missed it, the exhibition is on until May 2nd at The Workhouse Gallery, Presteigne, LD8 2UF (01544 267864). Opening hours are 10 – 4 from Tuesday to Saturday, 12 – 4 on Sundays, closed Mondays. Copies of the book are also on sale, as are some of Jake Hobson‘s beautiful Japanese gardening implements. Oh, and if you’ve seen the book – and like it – we’d be grateful for a brief review or rating on Amazon. Thanks!

Our glamorous girls man the bar

A new feature – the Telegraph Magazine, Saturday 6th March

Ginkaku-ji Temple

The gravel garden at Ginkaku-ji, Kyoto

In tomorrow’s Telegraph Magazine, extracts and pictures from The Gardens of Japan. Just a taster – I’m afraid you still have to buy the book, which is published on the 25th March. Visit and support your local independent bookseller for choice, but if like us you’re miles from anywhere, you can always get it from guess who (link on the book cover below)
The Gardens of Japan

The Gardens of Japan – first review

Our first review for The Gardens of Japan, and we really couldn’t ask for a better one. It’s in the current (March) issue of Gardens Illustrated and is by Charles Quest-Ritson, to whom all thanks. “Ravishingly beautiful and inspirational” – yes, we can live with that. Official publication date is the 25th March, though some bookshops already seem to have stock.

Ryoan-ji Temple, Kyoto

A weeping cherry overhangs the famous ochre wall at Ryoan-ji Temple

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