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Posts tagged ‘Flowers’

New Horizons / Goodbye to Loved Ones

There is a very good reason why moving house is said to be one of, if not the most stressful experiences in a person’s average life: because it’s true. What looks on paper to be a simple event, with just a little effort and a few cardboard boxes thrown in, quickly becomes a herculean effort with as much cardboard and bubble wrap as would be required to encase your average skyscraper. Or so it was with my move that is, the second in just 12 months, across from one end of Palma de Mallorca to the other. The move marked a clear inconvenience, but for many reasons was both necessary and desirable. And it was with these many positives in mind that we maintained our resolve as we heaved suitcases full of books and paintings across the cobbled streets and many stairs which fill the centre of Palma.

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Almost 8 weeks after the moving process first began, we have finally began to settle in our new abode; a modern apartment which is reminiscent of our comfortable London home, except that here we benefit from a sizeable terrace and a wonderful view of palm trees and cypresses – one view you are sure not to get in Blighty. And now with the comfort of settling in finally upon us, the time to contemplate our new space and surroundings has also arrived, and in these first photos, I wanted to share with you some of my first shots, not within the new flat, but outside it. For as I awake in the morning, or gaze at a sunset upon the onset of the night, it is the views from this new home which enchant me… new views to get lost in; new horizons to explore.

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But the time of our acquaintance with a fresh start in a new home coincided with the time of the year when people tend to direct their minds backwards; to a past in which a loved one was by their side; to a time when a person’s presence made their lives very different. For in the world outside of our new home, Spain was marking its day of the dead, and in La Rambla, the sprawling flower market lining the entire central avenue of one of Palma’s principle boulevards, flower arrangements created to newly embellish the gravesides of lost love ones overflowed onto the pavements, so that down this road of some half a kilometre in length, it was like a single wave of bounteous colour had erupted across the ordinarily grey road.

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As with the cemeteries I love, the Day of the Dead is undoubtedly characterised by a sense of pathos and loss, but none can deny the beauty which accompanies this annual day of remembrance; when from the bleak monotony of sadness, colour erupts in a floral feast to mark a fresh adieu to lost loved ones.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Mallorca Moments: Almond island in bloom

While Mallorca may be famous all around the world for its stunning white sandy beaches, rocky coves and cerulean blue seas, at this time of the year, it is even more notable for the abundant almond blossom which turns the island white. For Mallorca is very much the island of the almond: those sweet little nuts are the basis of much of the island’s cuisine from the nutty picada forming the base of many a meat dish, to the fluffy almond sponge which makes a traditional Gato Mallorquin. So with all of those many thousands of almond trees bursting into bloom at roughly the same time, Mallorca in March is an island transformed and even more dazzling than ever.

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The demands of work have meant that I have somewhat missed the boat in the almond blossom stakes, with much of the floral magnificence already past its best. But when I set out last weekend on a happy voyage into the mountains, my sighting of a few trees left in blossom set against a beautiful Spring blue sky made me slam on the breaks of my car so that photos could be taken and the delicate beauty of these flowers shared for all to see. With their pretty pink interior and pure white petals, it’s hard to think that these stunning flowers become small brown nuts, but luckily for us in Mallorca, it’s a transition which will happen every year so that this magical tree can be enjoyed in all the various stages of its glory.

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2015 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Christmas Corona to Crown a Seasonal Soirée

I love nothing more than a Christmas party, and as I write, the excitement is building for the first soirée to be held in our new Palma apartment. It’s become something of annual tradition to light the candles, give the baubles an extra polish, stack up the bubbles and smoked salmon, and host a party for friends just before Christmas. Those nearest and dearest  to me in London will be sadly absent this year, but Palma is a very friendly place, and already friends made through my  new job here in Mallorca will be only too welcome at our 2014 fiesta.

But pride of place at this year’s party will be the latest addition to my Christmas decor. Gathered from the abundant stalls of flowers and foliage sold at Palma’s flower market along the leafy boulevard, La Rambla, this wreath or corona as the Spanish call it (meaning crown) has truly brought the outside evergreen in. Packed with fragrant fir tree branches, red berries, mistletoe and this year’s special touch – cotton, this foliage display is truly Christmasy, and brings the very essence of a Scandinavian Christmas directly into the heart of my Spanish home. The Scandinavian feel is even further emphasised with these amazing birch tree candles I’ve placed at its centre – wrapped with real tree bark, they look like something straight out of a snowy forest.

My Christmas “Corona”

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I should not end this post however without paying due homage to the flower market itself. For La Rambla in Palma is truly one of the most beautiful streets in the city. Boasting a central pedestrianised avenue nestled between two roads,  and overhung with huge leafy plane trees which always seem to retain many of their leaves, even now in December, it truly is a spectacular place to walk, take a coffee, and breath in the fragrant smell emanating from all of the fresh flowers. And with a special Christmas market also currently in situ, we have discovered it also makes a great place for mulled wine too!

La Rambla

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Happy Christmas everyone!

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Finding inspiration from Marbella’s final resting place

There’s something inherently beautiful about a cemetery. It’s not just the peace and quiet, which is of course an inevitable feature of every cemetery or graveyard, but the tangible demonstration of human emotion shown by the care taken by those living for the memories of their beloved dead. This can be seen through the wording of a grave, through the flowers carefully laid alongside it, and through the regular cleaning of the stone with as much care as would be taken for a feature of a living household. There is also something innately civilised about caring for the dead and paying homage to the past, not least because it can make us more appreciative of our life and the lives of others still around us.

While I do like an English graveyard, headstones tilting in all directions and covered in moss and decay, my favourite type of cemetery is a Spanish cemetery, whose tranquil atmosphere is more than embellished by the regular presence of sunshine filtering through the large dark cypress trees which are a regular inhabitant of such places. But I also love how seriously Spanish society takes its dead, and whenever I take a stroll in Marbella’s cemetery in Southern Spain, I am always touched by the number of locals visiting their family graves, with rubber gloves and cleaning products to hand, ensuring that all looks clean and well maintained. It’s a bit like the beginning scene from Pedro Almodovar’s brilliant film, Volver, when a visit to the family grave is both a family tradition and a time to gather and reminisce.

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Of course it will come as no surprise to regular readers of this blog that my overriding reasons for visiting a Spanish cemetery are artistic ones, and Marbella’s has more than once inspired me to take many a photograph of the scene. For in the sheer volume of marble fronted graves, both within private family mausoleums and piled up on top of one another like bookshelves in neat rows, these graves make for an excellent photographic subject, not least because of the variety and dedications, flowers, family memorabilia and photos. And on top of all of that, the sunshine is always on hand to provide warmth to the photographs and plenty of contrast between light and shade.

So here are the photos I took on my recent stroll around Marbella’s cemetery. Hopefully like me you will see the inherent beauty of the place, which far from being morbid, is a place of tranquillity, devotion and hope.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Spring has arrived! – Vol. 2

Only two weeks ago I enthusiastically published a set of photos which warmly welcomed the arrival of Spring. When a few days after posting it, temperatures turned towards winter again, I feared I had been hasty in making my salutations to the season. But happily Spring has arrived all over again, the temperatures are back up, Londoner’s white legs are starting to get an airing, and the flowers which were mere buds when I had photographed them but two weeks previously had now burst open into the most stunning kaleidoscope of colour.

The photos below were taken in some of London’s most beautiful open spaces. In St James’ park at the front of Buckingham palace, the sea of daffodils which I shot a few weeks back has dwindled away, only to be replaced by a stunning range of vividly coloured tulips. Similar flowers also grace the flower beds of the Embankment gardens, which I am lucky enough to pass through on my way to work.

The colour kaleidoscope of London’s parks

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Meanwhile, in the elegant streets of Chelsea, the start of April had brought about the reopening of the Chelsea Physic Garden. This garden, set on prime realty just round the corner from Gordon Ramsay’s flagship Chelsea restaurant and alongside the Thames is a perfect solitary spot, where the chaos of London’s streets immediately dissipates as soon as you walk under the trellis-covered gateway. At this time of year, it’s early days for these neatly tendered flower beds which are packed with specialist medical plants from around the globe, but in these early weeks of the summer season, the garden is resplendent with blossom, with newly shooting exotic plants and a pond full of quivering tadpoles. Bliss.

The Chelsea Physic Garden

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All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Vintage-dusk | A floral installation

Following on from the Spring theme of yesterday’s photo-post, and in equal celebration of the onset of Spring, I decided to both fill my home with flowers, and share the results with you on The Daily Norm. I find that flowers are such an important part of a home. A different bunch of flowers can transform a room from one season to the next; their scent can bring nature alive within the confines of four walls; and their colour can be used to either enhance or improve an interior scheme. So although having regular flowers is something of an indulgence at £10-£20 per time, I’d rather spend on that and it last a week or more, than an equal spend on wine which disappears in one night (although lets face it, I do plenty of that as well…).

Rationalisation aside, time for me to introduce my latest floral scheme. It’s something of a contemporary design – more of an installation in effect, but I think it looks pretty good in the centre of my dining table. Playing on the vintage theme, I have combined both heavily gilded vintage gold frames with beautiful faded dusky pink roses. Being unable to afford over a dozen of the kind, I opted for 6 showpiece roses, and supplemented with contrasting green thistle and some purple foliage (whose name escapes me). All of these I placed in a variety of sized and shaped glass bottles, one stem in each, and positioned these in various locations within my vintage frame “installation”. I took the idea of single stem bottles from the Hotel Estherea in Amsterdam, where I stayed at the beginning of 2012, and whose daily sprays of fresh flowers made a huge impression on my design sensibilities. It’s a clear departure from the traditional vase, and with all of those different panes of glass standing side by side and reflecting through each other, the grouped bottles have an almost chandelier effect – the perfect degree of decadence for my vintage theme.

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A vintage themed contemporary installation, perfect for the modern design-conscious home.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Life lessons from a rose at its best

I’ve always thought that a rose is at its very best just before it dies. When in bud a rose is elegant; almost like a young girl ready to ripen into the fulness of her adult beauty. When it starts to open, the flower begins to form a pleasing curved shape, almost like a small teacup, delicately scooping up and inwards, before spreading outwards again opening into a multi layered, but still complex bundle of petals. But my favourite stage is the point just before a rose begins to die, when its petals have spread to their widest in an attempt to gather as much possible light and air. It is at this stage that the shape and the fullness of the rose is at its most sumptuous and generously bounteous. All of its multiple petals have curved outwards showing the rich layering of its structure, like a dense lacy undergarment from the Victorian age, and it’s cupcake shape has spread further resembling more of a regal crown with its abundant beauty spread wide to capture the widest admiring audience.

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But as beautiful as the rose is at this stage, you know that it is but days away from death and decay; when the edges of those sumptuously soft petals begin to turn, go brown and shrivel, until the petals start falling one by one, unveiling beneath their elegant cluster the uglier stamen at the flower’s centre.

It was as I was staring, enchanted, by a beautiful bunch of orangey-peach roses in my lounge the other day that I contemplated this life cycle, admiring both the beauty of the roses as the whole bunch had expanded into a sea of mango-coloured wonder, but also reflecting, somewhat sadly, that this array of perfectly placed colour is but a transient creation, soon to shrivel up and diminish. But what it also made me realise is that while on the one hand it seems ironic that something can be at its most beautiful when it is at its closest to death, there is also a life lesson to be learnt here: that nothing lasts for ever, and happiness, joy, and beauty are all things which are transient. If that isn’t a reason to enjoy life to the full, and to reflect upon and appreciate the best of every moment, at every opportunity, I don’t know what is.

All photos and written content are strictly the copyright of Nicholas de Lacy-Brown © 2014 and The Daily Norm. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. 

Chelsea Flower Show (ii) A festival of flowers

As the name suggests, Chelsea Flower Show is quite literally a festival of flowers – a splendid, multifaceted, rainbow coloured floral extravaganza of these natural masterpieces, and wow, how many masterpieces were on display in the show’s magnificent floral marquee, where some of the world’s best growers have brought the very best in floral finesse to show the world’s most beautiful species at their very best. From magnificent lush rhododendrons, to sunburst citrus coloured lilies, from lilac and cream tulips to vivd pink cacti, and from delicate mystical orchids to the poker straight, architectural forms of the star-burst allium flowers, I have frankly never seen a collection of floral gems quite like these. And these are just the photographs. Can you imagine the combined perfume of this paradisal bounty? Moving form one stall to the other, I was flushed with memories engendered by the different scents with as great an influx as I was bombarded with the multicoloured, multi-shaped spectacle that was before my eyes. As a floral tribute, it just doesn’t come much better than this. Enjoy!

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Out and about with my iPhone – Part III

It’s that time of the year again, when The Daily Norm shifts the focus to the ordinary things in life – the “norms” of life if you will – which are often ignored by day, but look pretty spectacular when captured on camera. It’s a point I’ve made before in my previous “Out and about” posts, but the real benefit of the improvement of mobile phone camera technology is that wherever you are whatever you are doing, it becomes possible, upon seeing something surprising, or spotting something mundane which suddenly, out of the blue, appears beautiful, to capture that shot for prosperity. These often make the best photos of all – uncontrived, original, surprising.

As before, I’m posting a few shots of miscellaneous sights which, over the last few months, I have encountered while living the humdrum of an otherwise normal life. This part of the “Out and about” collection concentrates mainly on clouds, skies and a good few flowers to boot. Enjoy.

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My urban balcony garden

When you live in a city, like I do, here in the big smoke of London, every inch of greenery becomes important. When I travelled down to Glyndebourne the other day, surrounded by all of those lush green hills, and the conspicuous silence interrupted only by the occasional sheep cry, it made me realise just how lucky rural dwellers are to be surrounded by that constant beauty and tranquility. Yet it is only human nature not to appreciate what we have when we’ve got it. For all I know, the residents of those sussex country manners probably envy we Londoners who have the whole cultural world right on our doorstep.

I do like to count my blessings however, and I actually think writing a blog, which encourages one to reflect more on one’s life, making the most of occasions, events and opportunities for the sake of sharing and recollecting interesting and unique snapshots of life, makes us bloggers appreciate life with a renewed vitality and a very sharp focus. And one thing that I have always appreciated, albeit perhaps more so as my time living in London grows longer and my hours of work increase, is the green space around me.

The centre of this flower looks like little dancing aliens

My favourite photo – looks like the ant has cottoned on to my presence

I may only have a balcony to exhaust my green fingers, but that balcony, which runs along the front of my entire flat, is my pride and joy. There is much to be said for the urban balcony. Not only does it help to make urban life more bearable, more colourful, and more sensorily enriched, but also helps to give nature a bit of a kickstart – there have, for example, been reports of huge rises in the numbers of urban dwellers keeping beehives, so many in fact that there are now a surplus of bees for the numbers of suitably pollinating flowers available across the city. I don’t have bees, but what I have created on my balcony is my own piece of tropical paradise. I’ve surrounded my small table and chairs and my all important sun lounger with my own little slice of Spain. There I have a large brugmansia (whose flowers are spectacular bell-shaped blooms which smell glorious at night – they’re not out yet but rest assured, I will share on The Daily Norm once they are), a passion flower, an olive tree, grasses and plenty of geraniums. I’ve also encouraged honeysuckle to grow up the wall, and this year, for the first time, introduced some strawberries into the mix.

Because my urban balcony garden is a natural extension of my lounge which has a very contemporary red, black and white colour scheme, I have attempted to continue that out onto the balcony, with modern galvanised steel planters, and plenty of vivid red geraniums, which mark a wonderful contrast against the building’s crisp white washed walls and the black and grey grasses I have planted intermittently amidst blood-red cala lillies and those red-burst strawberries.

So without further ado, here are some focused shots of the plants which are currently thriving on my urban balcony garden.

Whether you’re a city-dweller or otherwise, I strongly recommend you import some plants into your life – even if it’s only a window box hanging out of the window. The introduction of plants always creates a new geometric mix into any design scheme, bringing curves and floral bursts into often boring square buildings, which are enhanced further as day turns into night, and interesting plant-shaped shadows dance across the surfaces of your home. Whats more, as a plant grows and changes with the seasons, your home too will adapt to the altering cycle of the year, and as the plants rise and fall, you will find a great sense of achievement in tracking their story and progress in your home (just remember to water them, occasionally!)

© Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm, 2001-2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the material, whether written work, photography or artwork, included within The Daily Norm without express and written permission from The Daily Norm’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicholas de Lacy-Brown and The Daily Norm with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.