Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Summer So Close


It is hard to believe that this is the same tree, that just a week ago was driving me to distraction, but here it is starting to fill in and provide the blessed cool shade just in time for the summer heat that has crept up on us. The leaves will continue to thicken and then darken until the canopy is a sea of green outside my bedroom window. It is amazing how everything is suddenly shouting summer at me, and not only is the leopard tree finally looking better, but the agapanthus is starting to bloom, and the first purple bulbs are bursting through the green case. I am rushing to get the larkspur stems and leaves finished so that I can draw this incredible bloom that I love so much. To me agapanthus have a special meaning because they mean the end of school, and the beginning of the summer break, which of course means no uniforms, drop off and pick up and lunch boxes and all this is replaced lazy mornings with no alarm, afternoons in the pool, mangoes, lychees and cherries, and all the joys of the long summer break that are just around the corner. We are currently in that frenzied last week of school activities and I am madly trying to get a few projects finished and starting to look ahead to long days in my studio while Phoebe is in the pool. This is the first year when I will be able to overlook the pool while she swims as the studio has a huge window overlooking the pool and back yard, which is an exciting thought after the years of having to drag things out to the back yard to keep her company and provide supervision. It is all feeling a little luxurious at this stage. As if all those wonders aren't enough to look forward to then rounding out a magnificent week for summer botanical inspiration is the huge bunch of peonies which are in residence on my desk.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Larkspurs and Leaves

 I haven't just been running outside and upstairs checking on the tree in the last week. I have also been busy with a new project, and yes that means I have gotten even more distracted than usual, but these lovely larkspurs called me and asked to be drawn and as you will see I am well along with them. I have progressed even further than is shown in these pics, and the insides of the blooms are all filled in and the second branch of blooms is well under way, so it is all going along very well. The methodology I adopted with the last piece where I worked over the whole piece rather than finishing a bloom at a time is still working quite well, though I am working a stalk at a time with this work and the speed I have picked up is quite surprising. I really think I may be onto something and can start to see how you can get quite a bit of work achieved in a reasonable stretch of time. It also helps you feel as though you are progressing as you see a whole stalk emerging from the page, and I think that is helping to keep me motivated.

You will also be pleased to see that the tree is  progressing very well, and is starting to look as though it will again shade and protect all the poor parched plants which are planted beneath it. I have really tried to be more positive about it this year, but I can't describe the lift it gives me to open those blinds in the morning and see that my windows will soon be filled with the deep cool green of a gazillion leaves rather than the spindly, bare branches and telephone lines. The bare branches just makes it feel so exposed and hot and bright upstairs and even the afternoon sea breezes which usually come through the eastern windows in the afternoon don't seem to have the same cooling effect, but I know very soon the tree will be heavy with its dark viridian mass and the canopy will create that cool welcome that I love and miss so much.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

I See Leaves Of Green... Well Sort of Greeny Brown

 Finally, finally after three days of gazing at the bare branches, and just when I had gotten to that point where I thought that maybe this would be the first year that it wouldn't recover, the leopard tree finally started to sprout today.
I woke up and tentatively opened the blinds, hardly game to look and see if there was any present, and miracle of all miracles there were sprouts and all the branches were covered in the knobbly green ends signalling growth was finally showing itself. By this afternoon there are actual leaves, brown spindly poor excuse for leaves, but leaves all the same. I just hope that I haven't jinxed it by taking the photos, I was starting to think maybe I was the kiss of death or something.
Funny how your mind plays tricks isn't it. I would have sworn that there were no bare days between the last leaves dropping and the sprouts shooting, but this year there was two days, so maybe there are always a few days, but it is so magnificent as it fills with colour again, maybe you don't really notice. Nice to be reminded to stop and really observe rather than relying on memory.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The Final Countdown

There they are... the very last stubborn few leaves that have been hanging around for the last few days making me look bad. Seriously there is maybe 12 leaves left on a tree that when fully covered has five gazillion, but still it isn't starting to reshoot. This tree is the very definition of anal... you can just hear it... I said I wasn't getting new leaves until the other leaves had had their turn, and I mean every leaf, so still I wait, hoping that a huge random gust of wind will dislodge them so we can get on with it already. If I was all zen and spiritual I could probably say the tree is teaching me to wring every last moment out of something, or that it is teaching me to finish one thing before a new starts or some such nonsense, and while both of those may be relevant all I am hearing is... drop already... it's over... you've lost... let the green begin!

Monday, 8 November 2010

Never going to drop

 From this angle it looks promising, but alas there are still a few hardy leaves hanging in there. I am now starting to look a little mad as I have taken to checking on the tree a few times a day... almost as obsessive as sweeping a million times a day. Even worse is that I have been looking at it from the path, then going upstairs and checking outside the bedroom window, and then back down stairs and out the gate to check it from the street. I have actually started considering if it would work if I climbed out on the roof and pulled the last few leaves off, but knowing my limitations in the coordination area I am tending towards dismissing this as an option...for now

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Still Hanging On

Day two and just a few last stubborn leaves are hanging on. I have to admit I thought they would all be gone, but just the odd leaf remains, and while they do the front yard is awash with the sun and the tree continues to taunt me. Only had to sweep twice today though so that is something, but fingers crossed they drop over night and then I will start to see the new growth... otherwise this is going to get a bit old a bit quick that's for sure. Not exactly a dynamic start is it.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Leopard Loses Its Spots

Every year in spring our leopard tree loses its leaves, and quite frankly looks absolutely shocking, which is not a good thing as we built party of the house around this wretched tree which spends weeks looking pretty dead. It dumps five million leaves which blow through the house and get dragged in on shoes and in Mushu's fur and end up in every corner and crevice of our lives. For weeks we curse the leaves as the fight for control rages and we blow them, and sweep them and clean pool and clear the gutters and roof, all the time watching for when that last leaf finally drops, not because it means we have won the battle of the leaves, and not because we are dying hear yet another person ask if our tree has died, but because once that last leaf drops something miraculous happens.
As that last leaf finally succumbs to nature and gravity, the tree gathers itself and starts to burst forth with the most amazing display of unfurling energy. Every day it covers more and more until the canopy is the richest deepest green and the shade underneath is a cool welcome home as we step through the gate every day. So in an effort to not hate the tree this year I have decided I am going to photograph while it is losing its last few leaves, and then every day record and share its journey back to being our favourite tree in the garden.
In between the sweeping though I have been fitting in a little work and the photos below are of the latest work. It is of a delphinium, or larkspur and it is absolutely flying along. The sketches of the jacaranda have progressed well and have not been forgotten, nor have the fruit blooms which are also progressing, but I am so loving the blues and purples of the larkspur I thought it would be a good lead in to the jacaranda... of course it could be that I just got distracted by these incredible blooms, but if I want to be delusional about their contribution to future work I should be allowed to do so, after all I am knee deep in leaves here people.