|My favourite image from last Friday's course: The Castor Oil plant (Ricinis communis).|
(Not to be confused with Fatsia Japonica, the false Castor Oil plant!)
This week another 8 plants have to be instilled in my memory bank before next Friday. It's said that the best way to learn is to use several senses at once: students get walked (in all weathers) through the maze of gardens to the relevant plant, told all about it (type, aspect, soil, habit, role in the garden, features, etc), have a quick line sketch and/or photo, touch the plant (well, I do) and - whoosh! - onto the next one. I was so absorbed in sketching the Sedums that I momentarily got left behind and lost the group, thereby missing out on fascinating titbits about Japanese windflowers.
The rest of the morning was spent having our eyes opened as to the meaning of plant names, how and why they're constructed (grouped) and a short potted history of the Binomial naming system. The tutor is excellent - and, believe me, I've sat through some real duffers. She's friendly, passionate, interesting and interested; pretty much what's needed to get the message across.
So, if you'll just bear with me while I get my visual reminders in place, these are the plants that I have to remember for next week:
Sedum 'Herbstfreude' aka Ice Plant. (You either love them or hate them. I'm with the first lot.)
Abelia x grandiflora (a bit of a misnomer as the flowers are tiny!). Domed shrub.
Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff'
Anemone x hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'
Macleaya microcarpa 'Kelway's Coral Plume'. Large perennial.
Ricinis communis (Castor Oil plant; fab leaves, highly poisonous, large)
Stipa gigantea ... as the name suggests, a large grass with golden oaty plumes.
Stipa tenuissima ... a short grass with fluffy plumes
I'm a visual learner so looking at the information on paper then matching it with my photos seems to be working ... so far. (I'm putting more information about the plants with the photos on my Flickr page for those that may be interested.)
The afternoon was equally absorbing; we spent much of it drawing upside down! (Not the students, the image. I had a sudden mental image of 15 students hanging, bat-like, from the rafters with pencils in hand!) It's a creative technique to get the right side of the brain to dominate during sketching activities - or, as I would call it, walking before you can run. It's taken from the book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" which has spawned a decade of workshops in New York. I had a quick look at their website and, especially, the 'before and after' gallery, from line sketch to tonal sketch with most of the self-portraits seemingly of desperados from a John Wayne Western! Luckily, for homework, we can have a go at doing our line drawings the right way up!
It's another dry day here in London so I'm going to spend a couple of hours in the veg patch - my spaghetti squash has formed another 2 fruits, only 4 inches long at the moment, and growing among the branches of the plum tree. If these grow to maturity that will make FIVE spaghetti squashes! I've had another Sicilian courgette from my balcony plant but the peppers are struggling - I'm likely to bring those indoors to ripen up. I keep having to remind myself that the green pepper on my balcony is really an Orange Bell pepper!
If I have time, I also need to remember that NOW is the time to be planting bulbs for spring, as well as broad beans, onions and spring onions, and a host of flowers for an early display next spring (marigold, cornflower, nigella, nasturtium). I've had the first of my seed catalogues (Thompson and Morgan) so I should be thinking about what to grow next year; how about everyone else? Keen to put this year behind you and plan for next year?