Monday, 23 February 2015

Come into the Garden, Maud

We no longer garden. Or so we thought. Indeed, even the few containers placed along the walkway of our Budapest apartment, and intended to add colour to our lives, albeit with the ubiquitous pelargonium, more often than not remain empty. It is simply that we are no longer interested in the way in which we once were. Perhaps twenty-five years of intensive, concentrated gardening, during which time we created a formal, two acre garden which gained National recognition, is enough for one lifetime.

And now our newly acquired seaside holiday home, which is not of course by the sea, comes with a garden, which we should not call a garden, but rather describe [and here we part company with the estate agents, their property details and photographs] as a barren strip of ground, walled in part, some 10m x 5m, the principal feature of which, although none of this has yet been seen, appears to be a neighbour's washing line.

What is to be done? We consult our books, and first some of those for which we must take a responsibility. 'Gardening in a Small Space' [upon what authority was it based?] suggests nothing, neither does 'The Gardening Year' [beyond work] nor 'Gardening with Colour' [which, in any case, is not what we are about].

hopes for inspiration here sadly rapidly dashed
month by month, season by season, year round toil

more concentrated labour but in Hungarian 

unsuitable for those in  their monochrome phase

But something may yet evolve. For cannot a reasonably sized, brick built outhouse situated at the far end of the garden become a focal point, converted to a summerhouse, a garden room, even a folly, from which will stretch [forgive a tendency to hyperbole] a broad terrace of York stone punctuated with buttresses of English yew, Taxus baccata, and approached through an avenue of Irish Yew, Taxus baccata 'Fastigiata', complete with water jet, classical urns [can you assist, Tom Stephenson?] and topiary?

Why not? Taking inspiration from a recently found image on 'Pinterest' and recalling The Tower and Rill of our own Herefordshire garden, we see a way forward.

an image discovered on 'Pinterest' which may well inspire the new garden

recalling our Herefordshire garden, an idea to be adapted for Norwich

This could indeed be our solution for a low maintenance, yet hopefully stylish and interesting, garden of the kind to be found behind every artisan, terraced cottage, of which ours is but one, the length and breadth of Norwich. Why not indeed? And do be assured of some 'before' and 'after' photographs. 

Meanwhile what of the front? Measuring some............!!

Monday, 9 February 2015

A Whiter Shade of Pale

Our love affair with Farrow and Ball, their paints of course, not the men, has endured for three decades and more. For our post-war Collins' house in Southampton, it was love at first brushstroke. 'Smoked Trout', 'Mouse's Back', 'Picture Gallery Red' and 'Cooking Apple Green' all found their way onto our walls and into our hearts.

Farrow and Ball, these paint perfectionists with their deliciously named tints and tones, convinced us that although we had flirted with Dulux, Zoffany and Crown in the past, only Farrow and Ball, founded in Dorset in the 1930s and still there today, was the real deal when it came to decorating.

the deliciously named shades of the Farrow and Ball colour wheel

a recent redecoration of our Budapest kitchen using Farrow and Ball 'Old White'

So our timber framed Herefordshire cottage, our follies and garden rooms and our Regency Brighton flat were all decorated in elegantly colourful Farrow and Ball style. The colour palette from which our choices were made was as extensive as it was seductive. We defied fads, trends or 'hot' colours of the year as we enhanced our rooms with 'Dayroom Yellow', 'Oval Room Blue', 'Vert de Terre' and 'Elephant's Breath'.

our painter at work in our Budapest kitchen where 'Old White' is teamed with 'Lime White'

Then the 'grande passion' arrived in the form of decorating our 200 square metre Budapest apartment with its 15ft ceiling heights. Untouched for 50 years and in multiple occupancy, it was a sorry, unloved sight of peeling plaster, grime blackened, of unspeakable bathroom, and a plethora of dark brown, gloss paint. 'Lime White' was to be the knight in shining armour. Eggshell for the woodwork, Estate Emulsion for the walls, all 92 litres of it shipped from London. Rapture. And so it was. 

'Lime White' , a colour used extensively in our Budapest apartment

The soon to be ours, Norwich terraced house is a blank canvas. But what colours to choose? Whatever, our artist friend, Enrico, of whom note should be taken, said, "Farrow and Ball, it is so last year!" Annie Sloan's 'chalk paint' is, apparently, what is colouring all the best drawing rooms these days. After all, according to the 'World of Interiors', "it will transform even the drabbest bunker into a haven".

it is for 'Little Greene' we are now enthusing

But, we have been seduced by another! Little Greene has been producing paint and paper since as long ago as 1773. With its reassuringly high pigment levels, this paint offers a depth of colour with undertones that subtly change in different lights providing real character and definition. With 49 [not 50] shades of grey, who can resist? Not us!

P.S. We are not in the employ, nor do we have any connection with, any paint company whatsoever!!